By evening his parents are exhausted.
And they dream of a time when Toribio might change
and everything would be much easier.
In Impossible, a young child named Toribio exhibits typical toddler-like behaviour that utterly exhausts his parents. He cries at night, protests during bath time, revels in his picky eating, and refuses to try the potty. One day, his parents view a newspaper ad from a woman named Mrs. Meridien who promises to solve any problem, including poor toddler behavior. They attend a meeting with her during which Mrs. Meridien, after charging an exorbitant price, provides some magic powder that Toribio ‘s parents are meant to place on his pillow. Surprisingly, the powder transforms Toribio into a cat that appears to display the perfect behaviour they had sought. Finally, the parents are granted a reluctant peace.
Isol’s drawings depict motion and energy, juxtaposing the emotions of stress and joy, along with physical tiredness (the parents) and vivacity (the child). The shading is in tones of gray, brown, and blue, with colourful and bright accents. The use of colour does not typically conform to the black outline, enhancing the sense of harried movement and the extreme emotions depicted in the text.
While the story offers an innovative approach to addressing toddler behaviour, it contains subtleties only parents will truly appreciate. That is, it appears to be written more to elicit parents’ chuckles and nods of understanding rather than to appeal to a small child. It is not clear that children younger than school age would appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone. In addition, it should be noted that normal toddler behaviour is depicted as abnormal, as something that needs to be fixed externally – or else. Parents, librarians, and teachers will have to decide if they agree with the viewpoint espoused in this book. An addition for large public libraries.
Roxy Garstad is the Collections Librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.