By Mel Schuit of Let’s Talk Picture Books
Mel Schuit is one of our favourite children’s book bloggers, especially for her “Let’s talk illustrators” interviews with children’s book illustrators, full of interesting questions about the process of bookmaking.
This month, we are releasing our first leperello—Look by Gavin Bishop—so we are sharing Mel’s book list of her favourite leporellos.
We’ve summarised her list below and encourage you to click through to the Let’s Talk Picture Books blog to see all the images and find more excellent content about children’s books.
Books that have accordion-style, or zig-zagged, pages are called leporellos (or concertinas). These books can be experienced in a few ways: readers can keep the book folded and turn the “pages,” flipping the book at the end to experience the other side of the book; or they can completely unfold and expand the book to create one giant, linear narrative. Some leporellos are printed on the front and back, while others are one-sided.
It’s Useful to Have a Duck by Isol
This leporello takes advantage of the two sides of the book to represent two sides of a story. On the one side a boy details why it’s useful to have a duck, but on the other side we see a duck listing very similar reasons about the importance of having a boy. And the whole book fits into a neat little cardboard slipcase which—true to form—opens on both ends.
Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh
Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields, but his family is struggling for money so he decides to cross over into the United States, making him an undocumented worker. Despite the fact that he lives his life in fear of being turned into the authorities he risks everything to stand up for himself and his community.
Tell by Warja Lavater
Presented entirely in pictograms, Tell is a wordless leporello about Swiss folk hero Wilhelm Tell. Tell was a master marksman who was forced to earn his freedom by splitting an apple placed over his son’s head. The book literally unfolds with arrows carrying readers through, and there’s a legend included on an accompanying card for a more guided experience.
Imagier d’Afrique by Magali Attiogbe
Rather than a narrative that unfolds with every pleat, the images in this book are thematically linked. We see thirty prints with drawings relating to Africa. From the pineapple to the leopard to the djembe, readers experience vibrant portraits of people, places, animals, and more associated with Africa, and each print is paired with a word or two describing the image.
Swan Lake by Ping Zhu
Ping Zhu wordlessly shows both sides of the curtain during a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet. On one side of the leporello we see the precision and orderliness that the audience witnesses, and on the other the chaos and bustle of being backstage. The story is shown primarily in blues and oranges, and the complementary color choice delightfully parallels Zhu showing two sides of the curtain.
Panorama: A Foldout Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet
This oversized leporello has 32 pages, so it’s not only large, but it gets very long. Scenes of nature and indigenous wildlife from all around the world are done in black and white lithographs, with a daytime view on one side and a nighttime view on the other. It’s a beautiful and interactive look at the world’s beauty from differing perspectives.
Out the Window by Cybèle Young
This nearly wordless board book follows a small animal who loses his ball out a window. Too small to look out the window, the little creature finally finds a way to see where the ball went, but it discovers that it’s lost amidst a parade strange machines and creatures. Naturally, you see the mammal’s point of view on one side of the opened leporello and the parade on the other.
Romeo and Juliet by Yelena Bryksenkova
The classic Romeo and Juliet story told in fourteen vertical panels.
The Enduring Ark by Joydeb Chitrakar and Gita Wolf
Bengali Patua scroll painter Joydeb Chitrakar puts forth the Indian version of this Biblical tale, with warm colors leading readers from a deluge of water, to the on-boarding of the animals, to the inevitable rainbow the end of their journey.
La Rumeur de Venise by Albertine
A fisherman pulls a large fish out of the ocean one day. But as rumors of the catch begin to spread through the local town, the story gets more and more exaggerated. It wasn’t a fish, it was an octopus. It wasn’t an octopus, it was a sea monster. Or a mermaid! This wordless story literally unfolds for an entertaining read with lots of fun details to spot.
Little Red Riding Hood by Clémentine Sourdais
Cut-out cardstock allows readers to flash a light through the pages and cast shadows on the walls. It’s absolutely stunning, and makes for a super fun interactive read of the well-known story.
Animals Are Delicious by Sarah Hutt, Dave Ladd, and Stephanie Anderson
Learn about three of the longest food chains in the animal kingdom, from water to land to sky. The illustrations look like dioramas with toy predators suspended midair by nearly invisible strings, and layers of paper make up the terrain to give each scene depth.
Welcome to the Day by Emma Giuliani
This enchanting leporello encourages readers to live in the moment. Although it appears to be entirely created in black and white, each panel houses a unique fold or flap for readers to open, revealing strikingly colorful flowers of every shape and size.
Helping Hen by Claudia Ripol and Yeonju Yang
In this colorful leporello hen tries to escape a fox who wants to eat her. This book is cleverly disguised so that it looks like a hen when it’s closed and a farmer when it’s open (with the farmer’s wife on the reverse side)!
The Adventures of 3 Bears by Claudio Ripol and Yeonju Yang
Three leporellos in one package. Each focuses on a different bear and has its own unique story. When the leporellos are unfolded completely, turn them over and you have a mask!
A Train Journey by Gérard LoMonaco
Explore four different iconic trains in this combination leporello/pop-up book! Each wordless spread has a series of layered pop-ups, and the backs of several panels contains historical information about the trains.
Gaua by Hector Dexet
This glow-in-the-dark book can be read on either side for a different experience! On one side are phrases that engage readers and encourage them to interact with what they see on the page, and on the other side are concept words naming flora and fauna. Visually, both sides are identical, so the book is truly a useful tool for connecting concepts in kids’ minds. And as previously stated, the whole book glows in the dark!
The Trainbow by Nina Laden
Readers board a rainbow train, one side focused on the color of each car and the other on the train as a whole. The steam from the train leaves a long, rainbow die-cut trail along the top of the book.
Le Petit Chaperon Chinois, written by Marie Sellier and illustrated by Catherine Louis
This Little Red Riding Hood leporello sees Grandma heading to her three grandchildren when she encounters a wolf in the woods!
Excentric City by Béatrice Coron
Perfect for casting shadows on the walls with a flashlight!
Liberté, written by Paul Éluard and illustrated by Louis Rigaud and Anouck Boisrobert
This leporello adaptation of Éluard’s poem about freedom during German occupation of France.
Look – A Tummy Time Book is a concertina board book of big bright faces to place around baby on the floor at tummy time—by multi-award-winning author/illustrator Gavin Bishop.
Babies will love tummy time or learning to sit up surrounded by this beautiful two metre fold-out, wordless board book illustrating faces and toys in bright colors.
You can see this book recommended by a baby here.