A girl named Willow learns from a friend “inside [her] head” how to unlock her imagination when rereading a book.
Advice opposite the title page is an immediate hint about the approaching dreamlike quality of the text and the illustrations: “Read slowly, then… / Close your eyes / See the images / Savor the wor(l)d / Imagine the future / Feel the colors / Hear the sounds / Smell the paper / Touch the story / Enjoy.” The title page features the same gnomish, whiskered old man who, on the cover, gazes up at a girl on a carousel horse. As the page turns, readers learn that he is Tally, a gruff voice inside Willow’s head, advising her to end boredom by reading. When Willow protest that she’s read all of her books, Tally advises her to look for the “book inside the book.” There is a design flaw here: The stack of sentences in quotation marks does not clarify who is speaking, which may tie readers in knots. Under Tally’s tutelage, Willow embarks on a fantastical journey, flying above and into storybook scenes. The fantasy elements of the artwork are stunningly beautiful and subtly evocative of different centuries of Western artwork and literature. Unfortunately, inconsistent depiction of Willow’s apparent age is distracting.
Read for the overall aesthetic and for the text’s gentle humor. (Picture book. 4-7)