What If? From Worries to Wonder
What If? From Worries to Wonder
What if it is too crowded? Or I get lost?
What if you have fun? What if you find your way, and make a friend?
Four children, who are possibly heading to camp, express their worries to their grown-ups. What if something bad happens? What if they feel negative emotions? Their caring adults turn the question on its head. What if something good happens? What if you have fun?
Each child is featured in a portion of the book, using two to four full-bleed spreads. Each section begins with the child’s worries and is followed up by their grown-up’s reassurances. The text is limited, allowing the reader to both focus on the illustrations and sit with the possibilities revealed by the narrative. Unfortunately, the book is a little too concise, with two entirely blank pages at the end. One could reach and suppose that the blank pages represent endless possibilities, but it seems more likely that the author ran out of ideas. That being said, being short and snappy might make the book more approachable to some readers.
The art media are not described on the copyright page; however, the art appears to be a combination of collage and acrylic. The illustrations do a great job of complementing the text. They are generally busy with colour and background patterns, a good reflection of minds aswirl with possibilities (good and bad). It does this while still cantering the young protagonists in each spread. The scenes depict the text well while adding additional content. For example, one child’s concern about it being too dark or too dirty shows the child approaching an outhouse with a flashlight.
The font is based on the author/illustrator’s handwriting and suits the feel of the book. Collage is used on a few pages to spice things up which, of course, negatively impacts prereaders’ ability to recognize and identify the presence of letters on the page; however, this is a book more concerned about bibliotherapy than early literacy concerns, and so this is totally acceptable. The size of the text is acceptable, although it wouldn’t have hurt to make it larger and bolder to better contrast with the illustrations over which it is superimposed. One page spread has the text placed too close to the gutter. The portion of the text that is done in collage is especially difficult to read there.
The diversity portrayed in the illustrations is above average, but not astounding. Both protagonists and background characters have a range of skin tones. None of the characters are cued as being from a particular culture or religion. Out of dozens of people, two could be described as fat. Body builds do not seem to be correlated to negative stereotypes. One of the children is possibly gender non-conforming as he appears to be a boy wearing a skirt. While one of his concerns is being made fun of, it is not explicitly indicated that it would be due to his clothing choices. This is a refreshing choice, permitting readers to choose whether they discuss the possibility while not falling into the all too common trope of making queer characters suffer due to their identities. No visible disabilities are depicted in the text or illustrations.
What If? From Worries to Wonder is an effective, if short, book on an important topic.
Sadie Tucker is a children’s librarian at the Vancouver Public Library.