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If... (Getty Trust Publications : J. Paul Getty Museum) Hardcover – November 2, 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Series: Getty Trust Publications : J. Paul Getty Museum
  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1 edition (November 2, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892363215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892363216
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Brainerd on September 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best illustrations of any book I've seen in a 30 year teaching career. Got tired of retrieving it from other teachers and ordered five for my best teacher friends and one for kids to have their hands on in the classroom. Children absolutely LOVE this book! I first saw it when a student brought it to school to show me. Back then it had to be ordered from the museum~~and now it's on Amazon!
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book and immediately usd it as a story prompt for my first grade class. They first drew their own If.. pictures then wrote about them.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my daughter's kindergarten class and they loved it. The pictures are wonderful, but the best part is its imagination. It encourages kids to think in new ways and inspires creative thinking (and hopefully an interest in the arts). I enjoyed it and heartily recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
This attractive, well-written picture book holds younger children from 3 on up spellbound with its surprising and funny new ways of re-imagining reality in nature (not to mention the nature of reality). Imagine, for example, a caterpillar coming out of a toothpaste tube instead of toothpaste, or if the moon were ... square! Does wonders for sparking childrens' fantasies. Would make a thoughtful teacher thank-you gift or classroom library donation.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is well made. The pictures are artistic and the book has a wonderful rhythm to it. However, a lot of the ideas on the pages are just creepy. I'd rather not imagine what it would look like if mice were hair or if caterpillars were toothpaste. These are just not images I want floating in my son's mind as he slumbers!

The highlight of the book is the final page, where author Sarah Perry encourages the reader to come up with their own "If..." scenarios. It would be a great mentor text for young writers as it is an easy and interesting way to write. Just keep the toe teeth out please!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic. Lets your imagination run wild. I used it many moons ago with a second grade class room. After we read it we pot together our own class If . . . book. It was fantastic. I still have a copy of our class book. I often give this book as teacher gifts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first purchased this book as a teen agerer. Since then I have always looked to it to help keep my inner child alive. For those people who say there are things in this book that are too scary or gross for children I would like to tell you the story of my fiancee. She met one of the kids from the classroom that inspired this book. Apparently the artist asked a classroom of kids what if...? and these are responses from them. This book is a beautifully illustrated trip into the minds of children who like adults sometimes wonder some weird or gross things. I buy this book every time a friend has a baby. I would highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
I witnessed a teacher using If... with third graders. They were so eager to create their own If... segments. Even children who are skeptical of reading and writing were able to enjoy the follow up activity. Sculptor Sarah Perry sure knows how to spark a child's imagination. No elementary classroom should be without If...
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