A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The art suggests and models various materials that can be used to make art: paper for origami, sand and snow sculpture, use of leaves to create art, and use of found objects such as marbles, string, wood shavings, shells, flowers, sugar cubes, etc.
Creativity can come from many sources, and be inspired by and utilize whatever materials are available. When one avenue of creativity's removed, another presents itself. The main character proclaims, "As long as I live, I will always create."
Positive Role Models
The main character/narrator's resourceful and endlessly creative, determined to create art wherever and however she can, using whatever materials are at hand. In her urban neighborhood, all her neighbors are pictured in their apartment windows, also in the process of creating. In the back matter, the author and artist talk about using found materials to make art.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What If… by Samantha Berger (Crankenstein), illustrated by Mike Curato (Little Elliot, Big City; All the Way to Havana), has a simple rhyming text with a first-person narration by a girl wondering what she'd do if she didn't have her pencil to create art and stories. The question sends her on an exuberant creative adventure, in which she imagines creating art using whatever materials are available, and the mixed media illustration reflects this inventive spirit. The girl's African American, she lives in an urban apartment building with neighbors who also create, and the whole project feels gloriously life affirming.
Is It Any Good?
This book celebrating creativity is itself wildly inventive and creative. Author Samantha Berger's rhyming text in What If… carries the reader through as if on a wave, and Mike Curato's colorful art, brimming with materials used in wildly inventive ways, serves to underscore the message that creativity is imaginative and resourceful. When the girl declares, "I could still shape the leaves," Curato creates a gorgeous sculptural collage of a fire-breathing dragon using leaves of various hues. By the time all the materials have been removed, a fold-out page says, "If I had nothing, but still had my mind…" then opens up to show the girl riding a winged, pink unicorn, concluding, "There’d always be stories to seek and to find." On the last page, the girl proclaims, "As long as I live, I will always create," and the illustration pulls back to show a shiver-inducing long shot of the girl drawing in her window, while neighbors in other lit windows are also creating -- playing violin, decorating a cake, dancing, and painting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.