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Monday, December 29, 2014

What If...? By Anthony Browne. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $19.00 ages 4 and up

"What if they play
scary games?

They won't -
only fun ones.

But how do you

Is this it?
"NO!" said Joe."

I don't remember going to my first birthday party away from home. It's far too long ago for that! If my mom were here, she would have a story to tell about my being homesick and asking a million questions.

So when I read Joe's story, I can absolutely relate to the way he is feeling as he and his mother walk toward Tom's house on his way to help celebrate a birthday. There is a tiny problem with the address. Joe has lost the invitation and they must make a guess; they know the street, they are just not absolutely sure about the house number. This adds to the stress, of course. As they make their way down the street, they take a little peek into the windows that they pass.

On boy, what they see in those windows does nothing to assuage Joe's concerns! Strange doings, an elephant, a weird staring dog and the elderly people who own him, add to the unease that, by now, both mother and son are feeling. Even Mom is not sure that the party is going to be as much fun as she first thought ... poor Joe! Mom leaves him, and then worries until she returns to pick him up. As you have probably guessed, there was no cause for worry. Joe is perfectly content by the time she returns. He literally beams!

If you know and admire Anthony Browne's previous works, you will not be disappointed in any way by this newest book. It's so much fun to share a peek into each of the windows and appreciate the imagination that creates each small scene. His artwork, as always, is part of the storytelling and clearly shows the conversation that takes place between a young, apprehensive boy and his constantly reassuring mother. As they walk along, they are washed in blue tones, while the scenes in the windows are colorful and bright. The return home as the party concludes is created in full color, once more. Lovely!

Now, have a listen to what Anthony Browne has to say about his new story and how it came to be:

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