Milo Imagines the World

Putnam. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399549083.
K-Gr 3–The creators of the Newbery Award-winning Last Stop on Market Street team up for another journey with a life lesson on a child’s level. This time, Milo and his teen sister, who are both Black, take a long subway ride together. Big sister is glued to her cell phone and bespectacled Milo draws the lives he imagines for other passengers on the train. Maybe the whiskered man doing crosswords lives all alone with parakeets and a cat. Maybe the little white boy in a suit lives in a castle. Maybe the wedding dress lady and her groom will take flight in a hot air balloon after the ir nuptials. Initially, this appears to be a story about how being observant feeds the creative process, but when Milo and his sister arrive at the prison where their mother is incarcerated, the white boy from the train is also there to visit his own mother. “Maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face,” thinks Milo. Robinson captures the vivacity of the New York City subway with his acrylic paint and collage and faux naïve style, while other spreads show Milo’s childlike crayon drawings. The text is rich with words like tepid, mewling, and infinite, and vividly compares Milo’s excitement to “shook-up soda,” while the happy bride has “a face made out of light.”
VERDICT Pictures brimming with activity, an endearing main character, and threads for thinking about art, families, and what we see in others make this a book that will hold up to many readings.

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