The Great Zapfino (Hardcover)
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I admit I am obsessed with wordless (or minimally worded) picture books. There's so much to pore over in the illustrations, and Marla Frazee has hidden details in every single page. I also loved the message of facing your fears. This is a great book for readers of all ages.— Chelsea
When The Great Zapfino climbs to the top of the circus platform, all eyes are on him, waiting for his incredible leap. But Zapfino is afraid of heights! He can’t take the pressure and flees, boards a plane, and runs away to start a new life.
In the city, Zapfino starts work as an elevator operator in a tall building but soon learns you can never really outrun your fears. When disaster strikes, can Zapfino find the strength to be great?
Marla Frazee is the recipient of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Picture Book and atwo-time Caldecott Honor winner. She has illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, and Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, as well as her own Farmer Books trilogy, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and The Boss Baby, which inspired the DreamWorks Animation film. She is also the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Clementine chapter books by Sara Pennypacker. The mother of three grown sons, she lives in Pasadena, California. Visit her at MarlaFrazee.com.
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
An unassuming performer gets a stupendous second chance in a lighter-than-air story from Barnett (John’s Turn) and Frazee (the Farmer books). Circus performer the Great Zapfino doesn’t look as impressive as the name suggests. The paper-white high diver has a head like a bowling ball, ears that stick straight out, a cape, and a striped bathing suit. “Prepare to gasp as Zapfino dives ten terrifying stories through the air, landing on a tiny trampoline!” cries the circus ringleader from far below, as the Great Zapfino peers with dread over the edge of an impossibly tall diving board. A moment later, Zapfino’s gone, sprinting from tent to airport to a brand-new, beachside life far away, rendered in vignettes crammed with tiny, surprising scenes as the figure dons an elevator operator’s suit, and takes life’s ups and downs more slowly. Then fate conjures a situation eerily like the one Zapfino has left, giving the figure another chance to shine. Worked in pencil on matte film, Frazee’s lightly smudgy comic line drawings convey relief, repose, terror, suspense, and, at last, Olympian-level physical skill in this droll comedy.
— Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*
In a nearly wordless tale, Barnett and Frazee unfurl the story of a former-circus performer who overcomes a fear of heights. The dramatic opening takes readers beneath the big top, where the Great Zapfino (a small, bald boy in a striped outfit) peers over the edge of a stories-high platform. Rather than leaping to the small trampoline, as the ring master’s booming voice announces he will, Zapfino books it back down the ladder, hops on a plane, and takes up a new—much safer—life as an elevator operator in a high-rise apartment building. Frazee’s pencil illustrations intersperse panel-like sequences with full-page renderings, all filled with soft detail and welltimed drama. Zapfino’s life comes full circle when a toaster mishap sets his apartment ablaze, forcing him to leap from his window to the fire-department’s trampoline below. At once his circus training kicks in, and the Great Zapfino tumbles through the air, sproings off the trampoline, and sticks the landing. This fun mini-adventure will delight kids as they pore over the illustrations and fill in story details with their imaginations.