What If… ? Then We …: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Possibilities
illus. by Fred Koehler. 32p. Boyds Mills. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629799094.
PreS-Gr 2—This is a surrealist romp through the limitless possibilities of storytelling. The narrative follows two cartoon polar bears as they embark on an adventure driven by the question "What if?" On an iceberg boat, the pair travel far from home and beyond the reach of time to a land of crayons that melt away into a world of gray. Then they sail across an ocean of tears full of origami creatures and invent a musical language of their own. But when disagreements arise and stormy seas shred their paper boat, they discover that the stories of "what ifs" are best when shared with friends. The text is simple, and the illustrations use vibrant colors and a mixture of styles to greatly enhance the fanciful storytelling, allowing readers to discover how seemingly everyday objects are transformed by the imagination. The story may be enjoyed by early elementary students, and younger children would have the opportunity to develop their own narrative skills with the help of a caregiver.
VERDICT What If…? Then We… is an emotive, dreamlike exploration of the imagination with vibrant illustrations that will encourage young readers to build their own narratives.

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