Up Above and Down Below is by Chilean author/illustrator Paloma Valdivia, translated into English by Susan Ouriou. A whimsical little tale of geography and perception, the reader meets two groups of people–one that lives ‘up above’ and the other that lives ‘down below’ a horizontal line across the middle of the page. The author points out that “The ones above live just like the ones down below” and there certainly seems to be a universal love of stripes and hats among the amusingly geometric characters. Odd noses and the occasional bunny ears and reindeer antlers will provoke giggles and the mostly red, black and white palette of the pictures is enlivened by the occasional touches of green.
The people ‘down below’ are drawn upside down, so this book will likely be turned upside down and back and forth by small hands as they find all the tiny details in each picture. Valdivia briefly points out the ‘few small ways’ that the two locations are different, such as “When the ones up above put on their bathing suits, the ones down below open up their umbrellas.” The different “planting” and “harvest” times are illustrated with a lovely apple tree and a flock of tiny white birds picking apples. This is the perfect book to start a discussion about how things may be a little different in another part of the world, or to give to a child who lives in the southern hemisphere. I hope we will see more of Ms. Valdivia’s work on our shores soon.
Up Above and Down Below, by Paloma Valdivia, Owlkids Books, $15.95