Book: Imagine a City
Author: Elise Hurst
Age Range: 3-7
Imagine a City by Elise Hurst is a highly visual celebration of the imagination. Both text and color are minimal, and are not needed. It's best to just sit back and let Hurst's detailed pencil and ink illustrations sweep one away. We begin with a mother and two children getting onto a train, and then settling in for a journey. The text says: "Imagine a train to take you away". Closer inspection reveals whimsical details, such as a possible face on the front of the train engine, and a waiter who seems to have a teapot for a hand. A neighboring passenger sits upright behind a newspaper, with bunny ears peeking over the top of the page.
Things get more unusual from there, as we:
"Imagine a city and drops of rain
A world without edges
Where buses are fish
and the fish fly the sky"
Each of the above lines graces a single page spread. Some have no text at all. But the reader will delight in seeing the little family riding in a basket on the back of an enormous flying fish. In Hurst's world, animals and people intermingle in unexpected ways. Most of the animals wear clothing, and there's even an inter-species couple displayed arm in arm, unremarked. My favorite scene is a bookstore with books literally flying off of the shelves, and a lion reading a book with an image of a horse and rider that literally steps out from the page. There's also a page with a flying carpet.
The same mother and children are shown on every page, moving through the city (flying on the carpet, etc.), lending consistency for the young reader. This isn't like plot-driven nearly wordless books, in which the adult reader will use the illustrations to tell a story. Rather, Imagine a City is more like an illustrated poem, or perhaps a dream. This is a book that kids can pore over on their own, or listen to, soothingly, right before falling asleep.
Imagine a City is gorgeous and special and a must-read for anyone who appreciates the art of picture books. Highly recommended.
Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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