Friday, November 06, 2009

Motion Commotion: Waddle by Rufus Butler Seder

What's all this commotion about motion? Creator Rufus Butler Seder's little Waddle!: A Scanimation Picture Book (Scanimation Picture Books) (Workman, 2009), now riding high on both the New York Times best-seller list and Amazon's rankings, combines not-exactly-new moving image technology with solid design and easy-to-read text to produce an intriguing form of the picture book.

Can you waddle like a penguin?
Slip, Slide--Swoop!

Can you hop like a frog?
Flip, Flap--Floop!

Seder calls his technique "scanimation" and puts it to good use in his recent books. As he describes the process, he films animals and humans in motion, freeze-frames the subjects, cuts the images into skinny strips and combines the images and embeds all beneath an acetate film. When the pages turn, the layered pages slide, the subject appears to move in a lifelike fashion and VOILA'--scanimation!

Bouncy, alliterative, rhyming text with prominent use of onomatopoeia (remember that term from English class?) makes this technique a lot of fun for the picture book and easy reader crowd and almost irresistible for all who pick them up. Waddle!: A Scanimation Picture Book (Scanimation Picture Books) features slithering snakes, scampering bears, and prancing pigs, stomping elephants, and flapping hummingbirds, but the most fascinating image is that of the leaping dolphin, "UP, UP--AWAY!" which rises to the surface, arcs through the air and splashes down under water again (and if you close the page back, the dolphin will even leap tail first for you in the manner of running a film backwards!)

Although this venerable technique is probably familiar to most of us, Seder is one of the first to actually craft a full-fledged picture book with so much skill and appeal. Kids will crowd around this sturdy picture book to make these jolly animals do their thing and will no doubt stay to read the brief jaunty text before turning eagerly to see what's movin' and groovin' on the next page.

For more animals in motion, see also Seder's equally captivating Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book (Scanimation Books), this one showing off the special moves of horses, chimps, eagles, and other cool critters. Two very special books with appeal for kids from toddlers to 'tweens!

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