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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Imagine a Day
Imagine a Day
by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Rob Gonsalves
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster,(January 2005)
imagine a day . . . . . . when you can dive down through branches
or swim up to the sun.
imagine a day . . .
. . . when grace and daring are all we need
to build a bridge.
imagine a day . . .
. . . when your wishes float
on a puff of air
to summon back the blue.
--Imagine a Day, by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Rob Gonsalves, p. 1-6.
Thomson and Gonsalves (Imagine a Night) encourage the reader to imagine a day when she can do incredible, fantastical things, and that the world will respond in kind. The book is inspiring, encouraging the reader to believe in the good inside us all, and in the possibility of the human spirit and of magic.
Thomson's beautiful, imaginative text speaks to the wonder that children (and some adults) can see the world with. The text moves between magical possibilities and soulful ones, but all of them speak to opening up the heart, mind, and soul. The text almost has a stand-on-your-head and view-the-world kind of thinking, reminiscent of Cooper Edens (If You're Afraid of the Dark Add One More Star to the Night). What Thomson suggests we imagine is often moving and powerful.
Some of the text speaks directly and overtly to the best in ourselves and to believing in ourselves, such as "imagine a day . . . when you forget how to fall" and "imagine a day . . . when we build a moat, not to keep strangers out, but to welcome them in." Other sentences are more fanciful "imagine a day ... when you can dive down through branches or swim up to the sun."
The brief, packed sentences evoke strong imagery, some of which paint pictures in the mind ("swim up to the sun" and "your house enfolds you like a nest"). It helps to open yourself up to your sense of wonder as you read through the book, to get the most out of it.
It rarely feels like there is a word out of place, although there are one or two longer stanzas that have a different feel than most of the others. The repetition of "imagine a day," before each new sentence works well, and becomes expected as you read through the pages.
Gonsalves's stunning, surreal acrylic paintings deepen and enrich this book, making it a treasure trove of fantasy art. The paintings are reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg and a happier Escher in color. There is so much to look at and take in, and as you do, you see the impossible, the magical merging with our world, possibilities opening up—such as children walking on the reflection of a tree on water; a bridge made of people supporting a train, and gradually turning into rock; opening a map to have it become the world.
The colors are deep and rich, and there is great play with perspective that makes you look, and then look again to be sure of what you're seeing. We see things transform, such as a backyard fence move into planks resting high up in a city, or a moat being made of panels of mirror.
There is a nice use of shadows and perspective to create depth and a sense of realism within the fantasy world. Most of the paintings have a border of white space around them on the page, though several use up the entire space of the page and part its adjoining page.
The second last spread epitomizes the feel of the book—"imagine a day when the peace of a forest and the strength of a mountain become a cathedral for your heart." It is hope-filled and encouraging. And the last spread will be warming to book lovers and to anyone reading the book and enjoying it, where books open up into unique worlds for the reader to explore.
Imagine a Day is a fanciful, magical, completely imaginative book, both in the text and illustrations. It encourages us to open up our ways of thinking and of viewing the world and ourselves. This is a book you'll want to pore over, and read again and again—for the intricate artwork, the encouraging text, and the opening your mind to possibilities. Highly recommended.
-Added January 2007
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