A diving board to creative wordplay, the fascinating picture book If...
offers a surrealistic view of the natural world. The two-page spreads present artful watercolors paired with such strange possibilities as "If zebras had stars and stripes...," "If the moon were square...," and "If worms had wheels...." Although some of the ideas and pictures are whimsical to the point of being downright creepy ("If caterpillars were toothpaste...," "If toes were teeth..."), the hypotheticals will surely inspire flights of fancy for readers of all ages. What could be more appealing for a 5-year-old than imagining the silliest suppositions and seeing them come to life in realistic paintings?
Sculptor Sarah Perry creates a world to make us stop and think. One of her best illustrations depicts a large, hairy warthog with a sparkling crown and the text, "If ugly were beautiful...." With every if idea, the author encourages the kind of mental double take that comes naturally for children. (Ages 4 to 7, and adults, too) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
In her first book for children, Perry, an artist, suggests a series of impossible propositions, then makes each come true in striking if sometimes disturbing paintings. Her text sets up one scenario after another ("If frogs ate rainbows"; "If dogs were mountains") and ends with the suggestion "If this is the end.../ Then dream up some more!" Many concepts are funny ("If zebras had stars and stripes"); many are both intriguing and comic. "If ugly were beautiful," for example, is paired with a painting of a warthog?with warts, bristles, wrinkles and all?wearing a glittering diamond tiara fit for a beauty queen. Other visions are more surrealistic: "If mice were hair" captions a picture of a child's head aswarm with lanky, squirming mice. Elsewhere, a girl in green sunglasses parts her lips to reveal a row of realistically drawn toes; a blue toddler marches off with a green elephant, holding its tail?which closely resembles the child's own. While the artwork is arresting, the premise would be better served with a more supple, varied text and a stronger ending. Ages 3-up.
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