Ignored by her digitally distracted family, a girl draws a red door on her bedroom wall and steps through.
A lush green forest twinkles with lanterns and strung lights; a dizzying castle towers, its gates, turrets and halls linked by complicated waterways; a hovering aircraft festooned with propellers and wheels holds an imprisoned purple-plumed bird. Amid these marvels, the girl appears markedly ordinary with her common pageboy haircut, minimal facial features and simple clothes. She could be anyone, really, and readers will easily appropriate her journey as their own. Putty-colored grays and flat, boxy city shapes defined the girl’s urban reality, but here, color rules, modulating from mossy greens to slate blues to dusky purple—all punctuated with her crayon’s brilliant red and the yellow of a golden bird cage. White pages highlight action (the girl’s crayon whips up a boat, a hot air balloon and a magic carpet when needed), but most spreads deliver fantastically intricate pen, ink and watercolor architectural illustrations that remain playfully engrossing. They conjure contextual questions with no clear answers, or perhaps with so many answers one’s imagination finds itself opening door upon door and crossing thresholds, just as the girl did to escape loneliness. After freeing the bird, she needs its help for a quick escape through a small purple door back to her everyday street and back to a boy who wields an equally powerful purple crayon (an obvious and moving homage).
An imaginative adventure story whose elaborate illustrations inspire wonder, careful examination and multiple reads. (Picture book. 2-6)