The Japanese author/illustrator of Everyone Poops returns with a quartet of gerunds.
Four books combine their powers to make the Growing Together box set: Growing, Imagining, Sharing, and Exploring. All four are illustrated with Gomi’s near-iconic, stylized Asian people set against stark white backgrounds (except Exploring, which features the origami-paper–colored backdrops found in Everyone Poops). Sharing centers on two sisters who joyfully share everything, though sometimes it takes a bit of imagination. Imagining features a young girl imagining her mother in successively younger stages of life till she looks “just like me!” Growing presents an older brother telling his younger brother about all the things he did when he was younger, including sleeping, crying, and falling down. Exploring features a young boy driving, scootering, boating, and so on with his father. All four books are as graphically straightforward as Gomi’s previous work, though none will likely have the sticking power of Everyone Poops. Like Imagining, Growing and Exploring display a subtle, visual narrative arc . The former depicts the narrator’s growth from infancy to preschool age, and the latter gives the narrator and his father increasingly complex forms of transportation, ending with a rocket ship. Since the simplicity of the text and illustrations lends itself well to very young readers, it’s a shame these books feature paper pages rather than board ones.
Strikingly illustrated and pleasingly subtle, these books will grow with their readers provided they aren’t destroyed in the first few readings. (Picture book. 2-4)