Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'Black & White' by Dahlov Ipcar

I recently discovered Dahlov Ipcar's books, when Flying Eye Press republished a selection of them, including 'Black & White'. Dating from 1963 the artwork has a real retro charm, and the story, about a black and a white dog who live next to each other in friendship was apparently inspired by the civil rights movement. Most of all though, this is a great book to read and share with kids with plenty to look at and learn.

The story centres on the dogs' adventures, and their dreams, introducing a miriad of black and white animals along the way as they venture into the dark jungle and the bright Arctic.

While Ipcar's style is bold and decorative and very appealing to children, the animals are accurately portrayed. The illustrations are very printerly with a limited colour pallette, and were made using a 4-colour process, which the staff at Flying Eye had to painstakingly recreate as the originals were lost. This might sound like boring technical information but the difference from modern digital full colour printing is obvious and intrinsic to this beautiful book.


Importantly, this book is great to read aloud to young children, with a pleasing rhyme scheme. In addition to all the animals to point out, there are spreads covered in butterflies, birds and fish which my daughter always likes to count, and we always have to pick our favourite.

I love the final page and it's pleasing closing lines, perfect for the moments before sleep:

'And each told the other his dream
Of the arctic storm and the jungle stream
And of all the animals black and white,
White as snow, black as night'

I must also mention the endpapers which are just GORGEOUS.

Amazingly, Ipcar, at the age of 98, is still working from her house in Maine. If you'd like to find out more this article from 2014 provides a good potrait.

Visit Flying Eye here. They currently publish four Ipcar titles - and lot of other highly desirable picture books.