The Picture Book Review - Here Comes Ingo Book Review

April 3, 2019 by The Picture Book Review

Here Comes Ingo is unlike any picture book I’ve ever read or seen before. Author and artist, Odeta Xheka uses abstract collage and says that her book, “exemplifies a progression of thinking leading towards love, kindness and inclusion because the world needs more empathetic, understand and tolerant children.”

And it’s interesting because when it comes to this book, I am honestly lost. There is so much about this book that I do no understand. But what’s fun is that the kids have zero problem following through the story and that makes for a neat role-reversal where they clearly understand something way better than I do.

When they look through it they ooh, and ahh, and giggle, and point, and get excited. When I read through it I feel like I’m swimming and looking for something, anything to latch on to – because it is the most dream-like book I’ve ever experienced and my brain really wants it to make sense – at least in an analytical way. But I don’t think Xheka is particularly interested in this book being analytical at all. She has other goals. She wants us to, “keep an open mind in order to embrace what at first may seem strange. Remember, it is very important to learn how to be understanding, tolerant and kind.”

This book, as you can see from the images, is very surreal and pushes the boundaries of logic and coherence in ways that I have not seen in a picture book for children. It’s a disorienting experience (at least for me, again, kids don’t seem to have any problems with it). But it is not an unpleasant experience at all. Have you ever experienced art where afterwards you think, “I like it. I don’t think I really understand what’s going on here – but I’m okay with that.” I wonder if reading this book is like a seed being planted – and I’ll understand it one day randomly while doing something else.

What’s also unique about this book is that I’m usually the one helming the storyline with wordless picture books, but with Here Comes Ingo my children are in charge — and it is amazing to watch my kids tell me the story. They genuinely enjoy and have a great time explaining to me what and how and why — and it is never the same experience twice.

But even with my own sense of disorientation – the book is very interesting and fun to look at. It’s very, very strange on some pages, very beautiful on others, and sometimes the pages are both beautiful and strange.

If I had to sum up one way to describe the illustrations and the whole book, it would be as phantasmagorical – “having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.”

But whether the illustrations make sense to you or not, the bright colors grab you immediately – and demand for you to stop, look, and check in with yourself that you are really seeing what you think you’re seeing. And there’s something about these images that calls to me – where just because I don’t understand something completely (or sometimes at all) doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate that there’s a distinct beauty to them.

Xheka says on the back of her book that, “this wordless picture book familiarizes children with figurative art collage.” And her book definitely does that. Her illustrations inspire my children and have my boys asking where the scissors are so that they can go and create their own collages. There’s an honesty and rawness about the images that makes my kids say, “I want to create, too.”

One thing I love about having my blog is that I get to learn about books that I never would have learned about otherwise – and I’m so glad to have learned about this book and to have had this unique experience with my children.

  • Message From the Book Reviewer

Hi, I’m Tiffa.

Once upon a time I was a department chair and a director of review and assessment at a small university. I spent my days writing exams and teaching physics, chemistry, anatomy, and board exam review classes.

Now, I am a stay-at-home mom. I have two sons. One is six and the other is rounding his way into being a pre-schooler.

I started reading to my first son when he was a month old and the habit took. The second son hasn’t had much of a choice and we’ve been reading to him since he was in utero. We got rid of our television when my first son was born and we spend a lot of time reading and playing. We’ve read thousands of picture books, board books, and comic books at this point and there are still so many I’m looking forward to reading with my sons.

I hope you find my reviews helpful.