Minchin’s affecting song from the Tony Award–winning musical Matilda gets the picture book treatment.
“When I grow up, I will be / tall enough to reach / the branches that / I have to reach // to climb the trees you get to climb // when you’re grown-up.” Three grayscale children (one with cropped hair and pale skin, one with long hair in a ponytail and glasses, and one with darker skin and two curly puffs) in shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers journey through increasingly whimsical double-page spreads. Imagining the freedoms of adulthood, the children fantasize about loading grocery carts with “treats” and battling “the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown-up.” The final spread shows the original trio at dusk under a large tree, looking wistfully at the branches: “When I grow up. / When I grow up. / When I grow up.” Spreads in dusty pastels sometimes clash with the children’s bold, primary-colored outfits, but they otherwise create a pleasant calm. The illustrations portray a relatively diverse array of characters, including children who use wheelchairs and children with varying hair textures and (gray) skin tones. Unfortunately, however, without the melody and the context of the musical, the bittersweet poignancy of the song is lost and the lyrics fall flat.
Not as smooth as many other song-to–picture book titles; harmless but ultimately unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-5)