The WhisperThe Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
My rating: 5/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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along with This Is Sadie, this is another gorgeously-illustrated picture book about the power of storytelling and the imagination that has several pictures of foxen.

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here, a little girl borrows a magical book of stories from her teacher, but on her way home all the words escape, leaving only the pictures behind.

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Where were the words? Where were the stories?

It’s just not a book of stories, without any words, she thought.

but then she hears a whisper on the wind:

“Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed.
You can imagine the words.
You can imagine the stories.
Start with a few simple words and imagine from there.
Remember: beginnings, middles, and ends of
stories can always be changed and imagined differently.
There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imagining –
imagining just is.”

and so she begins…

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and it’s like If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler jr edition; on each of the following pages we get fragments of stories that sometimes cut off midsentence, stories with titles such as The Magical Cloak or Tiger’s Prayer that the little girl imagines as accompaniments to the lush full two-page spreads of artwork which are completely unconnected, although each illustration contains a fox and a rabbit.

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again, i do tend to uprate picture books in a way that i don’t with “regular books,” and if we’re being honest, as a story, this is kind of unsatisfying. the illustrations are phenomenal; there are so many details and layers and different styles of artwork on each page that you could spend a lot of time just appreciating them as art and you don’t really need a story to frame them. i mean, what’s that kid even complaining about?

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and the message of “using your imagination to create your own stories” is obviously valuable (although i feel like kids pretty much already naturally gravitate towards that, don’t they?) but apart from that, the story qua story is a little frustrating because although there are recurring animals, the story fragments are unrelated and kind of a tease for kids accustomed to a more linear narrative.

but ohhh that artwork. you could get lost in it.

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i don’t know how this book would play with kids or if this is just one of those picture books that’s really more for us grown folks. but in any case, it’s a gorgeous object, and i absolutely loved the revised aesop fable at the end.

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read my reviews on goodreads

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