cover image João by a Thread

João by a Thread

Roger Mello, trans. from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Elsewhere, $18.95 (52p) ISBN 978-1-953861-34-4

“How big is the blanket that’s covering João?/ As big as the bed?/ Or as big as the nighttime?” Taking a patterned blanket as focal point, Mello narrates a child’s nighttime experience in this entrancing, question-filled book, which gestures toward the way connection (to family, to nature) can be felt, even when one is “alone with myself.” Natural imagery—wind, mountains, rivers—describe João’s restless moments beneath the blanket, the fear that engulfs him and unravels the textile, and the lullaby (a “word-blanket” he sews) with which he soothes himself. Philosophical text unfolds against cherry-red pages starkly accented with black and white, while the coverlet’s spidery weave fills almost every spread, its design shifting as João—presented as a long-limbed featureless form—ventures through the night until resting beneath a blanket of his own redesign in this dreamlike volume. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)