I Wish I Had… by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Originally published in Italy, this thoughtful picture book takes children on an exploration of different types of animals, looking at some of their unique abilities. Blackbirds can see every blade of grass with their sharp eyes. Tigers can walk almost soundlessly through the jungle. Lemurs have tails that let them swing through the high branches. Whales can fill the ocean with their songs. Done in pairs of animals with each line beginning with “I wish,” this book is poetic and rich.
Zoboli writes in verse here that has a gentle rhythm and repetitive structure that is particularly soothing and warm. Through it all, the skills of the animals that are mentioned are all perceptive and sensory, all leading to better understand of one’s world or expressing oneself. It is peaceful and has a great inclusive and unifying feel.
A large part of the success of this book are the incredible illustrations by Mulazzani. Her art has a timelessness about it, thanks to the worn texture of the paint in places. That quality plays against the modern lines of her art, creating a synthesis that is dynamic and invites readers to look more closely.
Perfect for bedtime with its quietness, this book could also be used very nicely for poetic exercises where children look for admirable qualities in animals and write their own poems of appreciation and wonder. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.