A young girl of color challenges the voice of fear and dissent in Dillon’s first solo picture book.
Readers are introduced to Zoe with her arms stretched wide as she declares, “I can be anything I want to be.” As she stands in the bordering white space, Zoe contemplates becoming a bird, and her exuberant vision of the possibility of flight fills the center of the spread. But down in the opposite corner, quiet but insistent, a little voice asks, “What if you fall?” When Zoe imagines becoming an archaeologist and unearthing dinosaurs, the voice insists that she is too little for such things. The entire book progresses thus, with Zoe imagining a possible feat or future for herself as a small, doubting voice questions her—but not once does Zoe give way. In response to “What if you fall?” Zoe confidently insists that she won’t fall and can always fly in a rocket ship; when the voice sneers that she is too little, Zoe counters immediately: “No, I’m not. I’m bigger than you.” Although skewed toward an adult perspective, Dillon’s prose leaves readers in no doubt of Zoe’s determination, and while the nagging voice is present throughout the book, the illustrations of Zoe’s dreams take up far more literal and figurative space than her self-doubt. Pair this with Molly Bang and Ann Stern’s When Sophie Thinks She Can’t… (2018) for the ultimate in can-do power.
Thoughtful and affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)