On the title-page spread, a child with dark brown skin and black curly hair says: “Do you see the dragon?” Another kid, with pinkish skin and straight orange hair, says: “Dragon? What dragon? I’ll believe you…” and the turn reveals a double-page spread with enormous, flying pink porcine creatures and the words “…when pigs fly!” A bucolic, woodland scene is the backdrop, and lettering on a tree indicates “United Kingdom.” The pattern continues as other, diverse children join the first, black child in the same wooded scene, newly named animals and trees with different labels offering a variety. The humorous expressions of disbelief include “…when crows fly upside down!” from the Malayali people of India; “…when the lobster whistles on top of the mountain!” from Russia; and “when chickens have teeth!” from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The cartoons are stylized but mostly recognizable and usually humorous. The author’s note informs readers that idioms’ “meanings come from the speaking patterns of the time or culture that coined them” but provides no specific information about the 11 selected; only four are from non-European languages. Endpaper maps help orient readers geographically, and on the rear, the sayings are printed in the original languages, all in roman letters even when the original language uses a different alphabet or script.
Buy this book when, as the Spanish say, “frogs grow hair!” (Informational picture book. 4-6)