A picture-book call to dream and to create.
Swanson’s fanciful and whimsical exploration of the meeting of imagination and story is strengthened by the jewel-toned colors and sheer scope of Behr's illustrations. Written in second person, the text encourages the brown-skinned child protagonist—along with readers—to remember and to notice in order to discover ever more stories and go on more flights of the imagination. But it’s when the illustrations marry the text, taking readers to such disparate places as the Coral Sea, the near side of the moon, Sheboygan, and Kenya, that the book shines. At times facile, Swanson’s words work better when actually showing rather than telling readers that “wonders…are interesting [and] beautiful.” It’s in the specifics of the wonders described—“a blue balloon that must have slipped from someone’s fingers”—and in the buoyant illustrations that this book holds and shares its joy—and that it succeeds. The strongest illustrations are those that play with negative space, as when a polar bear wanders off the ice and into the child’s white-walled room, the one blending seamlessly with the other. A journey of the imagination, the book could be of use as a teaching tool to encourage budding writers and creators to notice and imagine stories based on both what they know and what they dream of.
Whether this has children writing their own stories or not, its expansive exhortation should definitely get them noticing. (Picture book. 4-8)