What Did Alex See? book review

Written by Rute Nieto Ferreira

Illustrated by Lucy Vigrass

Published by Tower Block Books ISBN: 978-0-9929565-1-6

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster

On the hard back cover a friendly girl walks down a colourful street. The scene is arranged as a geometric pattern containing subtle decorative features. At the start of the book there is a printing error across almost one half of the end papers that actually enhances the imagery found there. These end papers show the objects that the girl Alex sees in the story.

This is a look for and discover book. I really like this simple but effective story that uses a bright, clean primary palette. The street also has an architectural geometry that is familiar and reassuring. These building blocks offer a place for the typographic elements to integrate with the images. The aesthetic on display belongs to the world of screen-printing and possibly Risography.

It is a joyous week of discoveries for Alex, and with a daily change of clothing to suit her adventures you can’t fail to be charmed. Although this tale is set in a contemporary period it reminds me of the late 1960’s publications that I pored over during my childhood. The illustrations echo the simple elegance of animated children’s series like Mary, Mungo and Midge and Captain Pugwash.

In this linear story the young Alex makes her familiar world more special and appreciates the need to be aware of the things that are happening in your neighbourhood – after all you never know when you are going to need them. The abstract comes into the latter pages where we see the artist playing with scale and framing for the Sunday Flower Market.

The author, Rute Nieto Ferreira, co-founded the publishing company, Tower Block Books, which seeks out stories that emphasize a sense of specific place and its atmosphere, so this is possibly a labour of love for her.

5th December 2017

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