cover image What If?

What If?

Jonathan Shipton. Dial Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2390-0

A narrator with a pleasing child-like logic imagines what would happen if it stopped raining. Full-bleed images show a child bounding outdoors across a playfully tilted landscape and discovering a sunflower that rivals Jack's beanstalk. The child climbs high above the earth (""Up you went, quick as a monkey, hand over hand, leaf by leaf""), and encounters a curious new friend. ""What if there's a girl there? (And you're not sure you like girls...) But this girl is AMAZING! She's called Arabella...."" Arabella has the enviable role of teaching the boy hero to float on cottony cumulus clumps. When the dry air shrinks the buttercream-yellow clouds to tiny puffs, ""Arabella shows you how to wave your arms to go faster"" and sail safely home to the sunflower. In Italian artist Nascimbeni's paintings, which emphasize cool blue and molten orange, Arabella and the boy appear to be kindred spirits. Both have windswept caps of autumn-red hair, broad faces and weightless grace. At the end of this high-flying tale of potential and daring, Welsh author Shipton wisely rejects closure. Instead, when the boy leaves Arabella and descends to the ground, he finds himself standing at the door to an underground tunnel (""And there were steps!""). What happens next is up to the reader, who will probably have a few suggestions, and may well wish for another visit from this charming duo. Ages 3-7. (June)