Tuesday, August 14, 2018

An atlas of imaginary places by Mia Cassany and Ana de Lima

Although it's often a struggle to get kids in my library to pick up picture books after about age four or five (which is a whole different discussion) sometimes I'll pick up a special book for that rare older child who doesn't care whether or not they're reading a picture book.

This fanciful book takes readers on an amazing, imaginative journey through a series of islands. The text meanders through the book, including both descriptions and writing prompts in the discussions of the various islands. Readers will travel from the Sweet Sea Islands to the Desert of Lost and Found, from the Sea Forest to the Sleeping Whale. Finally, if you make it through the Labyrinth of Desires, you make it to the top of a mountain, "There they can wish for anything they want."

The real draw of this isn't the text though, it's the art. Delicate drawings create whole imaginary worlds to explore and spark new ideas. One spread, the Jungle of Changing Spots, features animals who change their coats at every sneeze. It shows a rainbow frog with white stars, a zebra-striped tiger, leopard-spotted bird, and fluid pink snake. The jungle around them is reminiscent of a William Morris pattern with curving leaves and vines, carefully structured plants, and flashes of color in the shape of animals and flowers. Another spread, the Upside-Down Mountains, shows a floating collection of mountains, many of them holding pools of swirling blue water. Two white legs flash into one mountain pond, while a girl with reddish-blonde hair swings below another upturned mountain.Blue birds drift across the peach-pink sky and ladders hint at more secrets within the mountains.

Although this is marketed as a children's picture book, I will probably put it in juvenile fiction and promote it to readers who like dreamy, imaginative graphic novels.

Verdict: This may find some classroom use as a collection of writing prompts; otherwise, while it may only appeal to a few children, it will be treasured by those few. Consider your collection and audience before purchasing.

ISBN: 9783791373478; Published 2018 by Prestel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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