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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

If by Sarah Perry

by Sarah Perry
Ages 4-8

This is a rather interesting book about eccentric and preposterous suppositions stated in simple text but accompanied by surrealistic images, as the cover indicates with fish for leaves.

Some of the conjectures were as simple as, If zebras had stars and stripes, while others were quite incongruous like If toes were teeth while yet others were fairly obscure like If music could be held.

Both the 1¾ and 4¾ year old seem to enjoy this book, albeit in their own way. The little one likes the pictures and the simple words at a very basic level, trying to take it all at face-value. While the older one likes that she can read the book herself, imagine the possibilities, see the pictures bringing such possibilities close to reality... plus, leaving room for her to think up some more by ending with If this is the end... then dream up some more!

However, my daughter did stop and make me think when she asked, Why is warthog ugly?

The book shows a picture of a warthog wearing a tiara and looking regal with the words If ugly were beautiful... She clearly did not find the warthog ugly at all, plus, she wondered why beautiful suggests we get to wear a tiara: does wearing a tiara make us beautiful or does being beautiful entitles us to wear a tiara?

That's the strength of this book - it allows for a lot of discussions without steering our minds in a specific direction while sparking the natural creativity in kids. Some suppositions trigger giggles, while others make us question our version of reality.

My jaded adult mind managed to find a few things rather queasy, thanks to years of conditioning, but, on the positive side, this book has opened up a whole new area of exploration for us via imagining the bizarre and discussing the possibilities and consequences of such impossibilities.

When we read this last year, it didn't seem to make as much an impact on Ana as it is making now. And, I suspect, were she a first grader, this might even inspire her to write and illustrate a few of her own fabrications. This book has a certain universal appeal that is hard to ignore.

Aside: A few of the illustrations in this book could be slightly disturbing - example, mice for hair, caterpillar for toothpaste, toes for teeth - but could also be silly like worms on wheels and dog mountains.

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At 10:33 PM, Blogger roxanaphillips said...

i loved this book, love that its so imaginitive and creative, some illustrations gave me the chills but still thought it was so original and artistic, love this book as an intro for artsy kids.
Thanks for posting about it!


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