The Museum of ­Everything

HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062986306.
PreS-Gr 3–Perkins, who broke readers’ hearts with Home Lovely, and with every book since, elevates the ordinary—again—in this story about objects we simply do not really see: a fallen leaf, a cloud, a flower. In the mental meanderings of the narrator, who is white, nongendered, and lyrically minded, “I wonder about things like, can a rock in a puddle be an island? And think about if the rock in the puddle is on a boulder in a pond. And what if that pond is on a small island in a lake? And what if that lake is on a bigger island, out in the ocean? It would be an island in a pond on an island in a pond on an island in a pond on an island in a pond.” This child, in T-shirt and jeans, gives readers a sense that the microscopic and the telescoped can live side by side, or within one another. It’s the kind of philosophical questioning that in less capable hands would be pretentious, but Perkins brings a sense of scale to the drawings—part watercolors, part digital, some photographed overlays like ghosts from an I Spy book—and creates a seamless whole. There will be, in the Museum of Everything, a Museum of Islands, as well as a Museum of Hiding Places, shown as a bush, with figures in it lightly penciled in white. The wanderings have force and direction, as the book winds down to what-ifs—What if we are in a Museum of Hiding Places right now?—given weight in dollhouse vignettes that shimmer from tactile to ephemeral.
VERDICT Perkins connects with readers who daydream, validating that act as a way to see the world and learn of its many interlocking pieces, and makes imaginative mental musings into a story, and an artform. Pure fun.

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