Saturday, February 28, 2015

What If...? (2014)

What If...? Anthony Browne. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Joe was going to his first big party. It was at his friend Tom's house, but Joe had lost the invitation and didn't know the house number. "It's OK, Joe," said Mom. "Tom lives somewhere on this street. We'll find it." So they set off.

Premise/Plot: Joe is anxious about attending his friend's party. Not just anxious about finding his friend's house, but about the party itself. He's worried about who will be there, what kind of food there will be, what games he'll be expected to play, etc. He's not sure if he'll want to actually stay at the party. (If his mom wasn't insistent, Joe might even not go to the party to begin with.)  He is walking to the party with his mom, and, together they are looking into the windows of each house trying to find the party.

What If...? got starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly.

My thoughts: I could relate to Joe's anxiety. So I wanted to like the book. But it was just a bit too odd for me to actually like it. What didn't I like? Well, the illustrations. They look into the windows of many houses on the street. These window scenes are illustrated in detail. And the scenes are just weird and slightly disturbing at times. It was hard to take them seriously. And since Joe's anxiety was real, I thought the illustrations were off. (In one scene, there's a man and woman sitting together reading. If you look closely, he's got antennas on his balding head. In another, there's an elephant in the house. In two more scenes, it looks like their are crimes being committed. Since readers are given two glimpses of each house, one from a distance, one up close, one is supposed to conclude that Joe's anxiety is getting the best of him perhaps and his imagination has run away with him. But I'm still not sure. I just don't like the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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