Kyo Maclear’s The Liszts* is a delightful story about a family that enjoys keeping a wide variety of detailed lists. The tone of the family resembles that of the Addams Family. It is slightly dark and odd but in the most magnificent way. Mama keeps lists of horrible illnesses and famous soccer players. Dad lists the worst of all chores as well as different types of small winged insects. Even the household cat keeps his own lists of admirers and enemies.
One day an unfamiliar visitor arrives at the door. He invites himself in and stays a while. At first nobody notices the visitor, each lost in the world of building his or her own list.
Edward, the middle child, is the first to pay attention to the visitor. Sharing with him his list of philosophical and bordering on the verge of existential questions. He is surprised to learn that the visitor also has many questions of his own. Edward and his family learn to leave some space and time on the bottom of their lists and in their lives for the unexpected.
Julia Sarda’s illustrations are gorgeous. Black and white and neutrals punctuated by bright primary colors. They show unflattering close ups of unattractive characters, with exaggerated features that match their bizarre hobby. Their preoccupation with the strange is evident in the illustrations. Each page invites the reader to take a second if not third look to notice the strange, yet intriguing details. For example, note the dart thrown at Mary Poppins’ head in the illustration of Grandpa and the cat above.
The Liszts is a unique picture book that encourages the reader to be open to different opportunities and experiences in life. It teaches the importance of flexibility in order to be present and fully participate in life. This is a wonderful picture book for kids ages 5-9.
*I received a complimentary copy of The Liszts in exchange for my honest review.
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