06.Apr.2010 Yellow Yellow by Frank Asch

Being a hoarder I managed to keep several boxes of children’s books from my own childhood. They’ve moved house with me and I’ve been paring them down slowly.

One of the first to be retrieved from the boxes upon the arrival of child #1 was Yellow Yellow. Dating from 1971 (although the edition I have is from 1973) and one of the earler books from Frank Asch, Yellow Yellow is the story of a boy who finds a yellow workman’s hat which changes his life. The real action for small children, of course, takes place in the illustrations from Mark Alan Stamaty – one of his first contributions to children’s books it seems.

Each page is full of intricate details, quirks, MC Escher-isms and visual jokes that make repeat readings particularly enjoyable. The illustrations also have a suitably psychedelic quality to them which always elicits puzzled questions like “why does that chicken have a two bodies but only one face?” and “that man has his head on backwards doesn’t he?”.

There’s a great moment midway through where the boy finds the owner of his yellow hat – one of those rare moments where the physicality of the book as an object becomes apparent and important.

Neither Asch’s or Stamaty’s websites really mention the book at all – although it does seem to be outlandishly priced second-hand on Amazon.

But if you see it in a used bookstore snap it up. I’ll definitely be passing my copy on to the next generation.

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