The world of books and pictures should be revealed to a child as early as possible. The two books "Black on White" and "White on Black" by the American writer Tana Hoban offer a fantastic possibility for this. Even babies who are only a few weeks old will gaze in admiration at the clearly defined contrasts between black and white, as these are the first ones which a baby's eyes can distinguish anyway. Grasping and touching the robust cardboard pages of these handy, square books also provides initial contact with the book as a medium, and so forms the basis for later observation and reading. Everyday objects which every child knows are shown in the two books: a bottle, a teddy bear, a bunch of keys, glasses, a bucket and many more. Particularly in the book "Black on White" the silhouette technique is so effectively applied that the objects appear to be lying right in front of you on the table – so near they can almost be grasped. The white objects in "White on Black," which are set against the dark background, virtually seem to shine - even more so in that the background makes them appear new and unusual.
However, not only babies but also older children (2 to 4 years) will receive great pleasure from these books. In contrast to the often excessively coloured and shrill pictures in children's books these two books confine themselves to the essential. This leaves enough space not just to identify the objects and describe them, but also to talk about them with the child. ( "Where will you find these things in our home?" "What can we do with that" etc. etc.).
Which of the two modes of representation is more effective will vary from child to child, but both books can be strongly recommended.
"Black on White" and "White on Black"
New York 1993