Tuesday, February 18, 2020

If... by Sarah Perry

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0892363215/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=627cd2249a1b2fe3105a1739dc7346d8&language=en_USSynopsis (via Goodreads): A diving board to creative wordplay, the fascinating picture book If... offers a surrealistic view of the natural world. The two-page spreads present artful watercolors paired with such strange possibilities as "If zebras had stars and stripes...," "If the moon were square...," and "If worms had wheels...." Although some of the ideas and pictures are whimsical to the point of being downright creepy ("If caterpillars were toothpaste...," "If toes were teeth..."), the hypotheticals will surely inspire flights of fancy for readers of all ages. What could be more appealing for a 5-year-old than imagining the silliest suppositions and seeing them come to life in realistic paintings?

Sculptor Sarah Perry creates a world to make us stop and think. One of her best illustrations depicts a large, hairy warthog with a sparkling crown and the text, "If ugly were beautiful...." With every if idea, the author encourages the kind of mental double take that comes naturally for children. (Ages 4 to 7, and adults, too) --Emilie Coulter


I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

If... is simple yet evocative. The first time I read through this book, I felt pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, I wanted to sit and stare at the pages without blinking. On the other, I was eager to discover what else this book had to offer. The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking, and I wish I could frame every single page and hang them around the house. It's like the author combined the silliness of Alice in Wonderland with the feeling of walking through a museum.

I recently learned this book celebrated it's 25th anniversary, and I'm really surprised I haven't stumbled across it before now. If... has profoundly impacted my perception of the world, and it's made me consider various other what ifs that are not addressed within the pages of this book. I am ecstatic that I get to share this wonderful work of art with my children, and introduce them to a new way of thinking that nurtures their imaginations.

My favorites: If dogs were mountains... & If caterpillars were toothpaste... They're all fantastic, but those would be my top two. My only complaint would be that I ran out of pages! Additionally, the Reader's Guide at the end was interesting and educational, but explained in a way that made you want to know and learn more. I cannot praise this book enough, and if it's something you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing, please do yourself a favor and borrow it from the library or just buy it outright. (★★★★★)


  1. Years ago a colleague used this for her end-of-year assignment. Kids read the book, drew their own "If" pictures, and then bound it with a dedication to someone who helped them see the world differently. I love the dog mountain picture too, and the whale in the sky, and the "If teeth were toes" one always cracks me up.

    1. The depiction of toes as teeth always makes me shiver! I can't look at that one for too long, haha. It's too weird! Like an upside-down mouth. ;) Yes! Whale's in space is a great one. I love the idea of using it as an assignment and having children draw their own versions! I'll definitely have to incorporate something similar into my lesson plans when I go back to teaching. <3

  2. "It's like the author combined the silliness of Alice in Wonderland with the feeling of walking through a museum."
    Great tagline!

    "If caterpillars were toothpaste".

    1. Thanks! I really liked that sentence after I typed it, haha! :)


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