If you want to teach your kid about bold geometric patterns and the high design concepts that informed their nursery’s decor, Mister Horizontal And Miss Vertical is the book to groom your young aesthete. It eschews the comical critters and underwear-clad junior luchadores currently muscling for space on your kid’s bookshelf for spare geometric illustrations, flat background colors, and the strongest line work this side of Ink Masters.
Inspired by a René Maltête photograph of a father in horizontal stripes and mother in vertical stripes walking with a child in a checkered shirt, the story follows the titular couple through various adventures. Their preferences reveal their personalities, which match their stripes. The mellow Mr. H “loves everything that glides,” like rollerblading, ants marching in formation, sailing the sea, and flat-out napping. The thrill-seeking Miss V. “loves launching herself into orbit” and fancies skyscraper window washing, New York City skyscrapers, and bungee jumping. Only at the end is Maltête’s photo revealed, along with the question, “Now what do you think their child will love?”
While it’s pretty high concept for bedtime, the artwork and witty narrative work well enough together that your kid just might start to look at some things differently. Even if the abstract stuff isn’t quite their thing, it’s still a win if Mr. Horizontal convinces them that napping is cool.
Mister Horizontal And Miss Vertical by Noémie Révah (Author), Olimpia Zagnoli ($12)