Imagine!: Rhymes of Hope to Shout Together

Red Comet. Mar. 2022. 64p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781636550145.
K-Gr 2–Italian children’s poet Bruno Tognolini presents verses of hope and wonder, skillfully translated into English by Denise Muir. The format is simple: each spread contains a quatrain beginning with the words “If only” and ending with the imperative: “Imagine!” Many of the lines feature precise rhyme, and those that don’t still flow seamlessly with rhythm and sound, proving the skill of the translator and the poet alike. While ranging from the benign to the profound, the vague to the hyperspecific (a wish for a meal of calamari with grandpa stands out), each pondering could potentially be the true thoughts of a child—albeit a fairly precocious one. Likewise, the jumping from topic to topic mimics a child’s curious and spontaneous mind. Unfortunately, in some of these cases the juxtaposition can be off-putting. Serious topics, including depression, joblessness, immigrants and refugees, and climate change, are covered in stark detail; the jump back to the mundane and lighthearted is jarring. The collage-style illustrations bring to mind the childlike wonder of Eric Carle, with paper that appears textured and handmade. Illustrated children are cheerful and diverse in skin tone, and the flora and fauna are lush and colorful. Imaginative and whimsical inventions grace some pages, supporting the text in capturing a child’s imagining of what a world would look like without traffic or war.
VERDICT While the poetry and illustrations are artistically appealing, the content and structure may require scaffolding and further explanation. Still, this book could be appreciated by the right audience for one-on-one sharing.

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