Two polar bears and an octopus imagine their way through an Arctic landscape.
“For every WHAT IF, the imagination creates a possibility,” begins this unusual book, “and in that possibility lives a story.” Two polar bears, one with a red-and-blue–striped hat and the other with a walking stick and backpack, rush across an icy isthmus. In the background, a friendly-looking green octopus greets some seals. The two polar bears illustrate each “what if” scenario, looking quizzical or calm, distressed or happy, the octopus a frequent presence in the background. Some of the imagined scenarios make sense or are otherwise evocative for children, such as “What if…the clocks stopped ticktocking? / Then we would have no bedtime.” Others are a bit more puzzling. The conclusion to “What if we shared something amazing and magnificent and wonderful?” is “Then we would keep it our secret, and treasure it every day,” for some reason. And the response to “What if something really big and really scary happened?” is “Then we would whistle and hold hands until… / …it wasn’t as big or as scary,” which may not appropriately address the realities of some children’s lives. The mixed-media illustrations are cute but not particularly enchanting, which largely sums up this inventive but flat story.
Prescribed answers to contrived questions are more likely to stifle imagination than to inspire it. (Picture book. 3-6)