Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Imagine a city by Elise Hurst

This book took me back to many beloved British fantasy classics as soon as I saw its Victorian setting and black and white drawings.

The magical journey begins on an old-fashioned steam train as two children embark on an imaginative journey to a mysterious city where animals mingle with people and strange buildings tower over the crowds. The wind catches umbrellas, swooping the people and animals on the streets off to the next adventure and they fly through the sky on a floating fish, visit a library where the books come alive, and explore all the wonders of the imaginary world. The story ends with the marvelous world held in a globe and the children fast asleep on the train.

I loved the art but felt that it could easily have stood alone without the accompanying text. The words didn't add anything to the plot or the experience of the book itself and were a distraction from delving into the pictures. I don't generally care for rhyming picture books and thought the words were superfluous at best and saccharine at worst, "The past carries on/and sunlight is breathed in a murmuring song" accompanies pictures of a vaulted hall with giant sculptures, skeletons, flying fish and pterodactyls, and a mix of people from a lady wearing a kimono to a fox reading a brochure.

Verdict: Use this as a wordless book to inspire imagination in older children or for quiet readers to pore over on their own. An additional purchase, but one that will resonate with a number of readers.

ISBN: 9781101934579 ; Published October 2016 by Doubleday; F&G provided by publisher for review

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