What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

47920780Lynn: Summer means that I have my grandsons with me all day and I have been reminded daily of some of the universal truths about young children. I won’t bore you with an inclusive list but some that rise to the top in my world include: little boys are never bored with bugs, running through the sprinkler elicits joyous shrieks at a decibel level that could shatter glass, there is always room for ice cream and the only time they stop talking is when they are underwater or asleep – and even then… Small children are also extremely fond of asking, “Why…?” and at 6+ my grandsons love nothing more than to spin out the possibilities, “But what if…?”

So it is easy to see why Laura Seeger’s new book, What If? Roaring Brook/Neal Porter 2010) is such a hit with them. This beautifully designed book begins its story on the cover with a small boy and a ball on a beach, flows through the endpapers, and title page as the boy kicks the ball and on into three stories examining three fascinating scenarios. Bright primary color illustrations with sharply defined black outlines tell the story of what happens when the ball rolls along the beach to three seals. The simple text prompts the reader with questions that propel the page turns. “What if….? But then… Or…?” The reader provides the extended dialog, the explanation of each scene and predictions for the final story. The brilliant simplicity of this book is ideally suited to the young reader. Explorations of the themes of friendship and sharing are central issues for this age and Seeger allows both the child’s imagination and reasoning unlimited play.

I haven’t yet used this book with a group but I think it would work well with its large bold drawings. It is a delight as a lap book as it elicits long discussions or for a child to explore leisurely alone. The publisher sent us this book in the spring and it has had great staying power with our focus group who keep returning to it during our reading times.

Now what if the Caldecott Committee got together and…?

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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