From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—"If you could be...?" is an often-asked question by a child. What would you be if you were something other than yourself? And if you were that other thing, would you still be you? Kuskin poses these questions throughout this playfully thoughtful book. In delicious rhythmic language, readers are asked what they might be if they were the color green or a square shape, soft or loud, small, red, or fierce, and more. Possible answers are considered after each question, answers as familiar as "the sound of thunder at night" and as quirky as "an acrobat's tights with a hole in the knee." Children will enjoy considering the many possibilities prompted by each question and will most certainly be eager to add their own responses to the list. The warm illustrations have a soft, smudged, crayonlike effect that renders the most impossible query and response accessible. Portions of the text were published previously in 1960. Such an engaging invitation to explore the world and tickle the imagination is most definitely worth a second visit.—Susan Moorhead, New Rochelle Public Library, NY
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*Starred Review* Kuskin offers more winning poetry in this cheerful picture book that is sure to inspire loud crowd participation. The rhyming text is a game of hypothetical questions: "If you could be soft / would you be the snow / or twenty-five pillows / or breezes that blow / the blossoms that fall from / the sassafras tree? / Tell me, sweet soft one, / what would you be?" More questions follow, each representing a different quality--loud, fierce, small, green, blue, bright, and so on. Lines in expertly modulated rhyme and meter encourage children to imagine themselves as everything from a tiny "mouse's house's front door key" to the whole of the sky, and the parade of images, both profound and silly, are nicely extended in Iwai's bright, fanciful acrylic paintings. As in so much of Kuskin's work, the enjoyable, even hypnotic sounds and the meaning of the words reinforce each other beautifully; "If you could be loud," for example, is followed by forceful lines that demand a strong, assertive voice: "thunder at night," the "howl of a hound," "the pound of the sea." Sure to be a read-aloud favorite, this will also be an excellent choice for elementary poetry units; it may well inspire students to write their own verses about infinite possibilities. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved