List Lovers Rejoice!: A Review of The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Júlia Sardà

9781770494961If you’re like me, the title would make you think this is a book about composer Franz Liszt and his family. You couldn’t be further from the truth!

The Liszts love their lists. Their house is filled with lists. They make lists every day of the week, all year round. Except Sundays. Sundays are listless.

Every one of the Liszts makes lists. Mama has a list of the greatest soccer players of all time; Papa’s lists include one of dreaded chores; the youngest Liszt child, Frederick, makes lists of fun things to do; Winifred, the oldest, makes “top ten” lists; Edward, the middle child, makes lists to “quiet the swirl of his midnight mind.” Don’t forget Grandpa! He makes lists of his greatest admirers and most fearsome enemies. Even the cat makes lists!

One day, a stranger arrives. The problem? He’s not on anyone’s list: not Mama’s, not Papa’s, not Frederick’s, Winifred’s, Edward’s, or Grandpa’s. Or the cat’s. This visitor is of no consequence. Then, Edward approaches the stranger with a list of existential questions, and the stranger has some of his own. The sharing of lists leads the two on a spontaneous adventure.

The digital artwork reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. The time could be now, it could be then. The setting could be New York, it could be Paris (where the composer Liszt spent his teen years), it could be no place in particular.

Take a very close look at the visual intertextual references. Make a list of how many you recognize … and be on the lookout for a portrait of the real Mr. Liszt, as well as a very cool tribute to the late David Bowie.

If you’re like me, you’ll now go make some lists of your own. Scritch scratch.

I recommend The Liszts for ages 5–8.

Also by Kyo Maclear: Virginia Wolf, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; The Wish Tree, illustrated by Chris Turnham

Visit illustrator Júlia Sardà on the web.


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