What If…? by Anthony Browne
Joe is headed to a birthday party and its the first one that he’s ever gone to. He’s very nervous about what is going to happen at Tom’s party and whether he will enjoy it or not. Joe’s mother walks him to Tom’s house. They know what street it is on but not the house number, since Joe lost the invitation. So along the way they peek into windows to see which is the correct house. But the things they see in the windows don’t help Joe feel better at all. There are old people with a staring dog. There’s an elephant. And then there are a couple of houses where the people are being very strange indeed. By the time they find Tom’s house, Joe and his mother are both worried. Will the party be fun?
This is a book that is permeated by Browne’s signature style. I love the idea of finding a party by peeking into windows. Even better, Browne takes it as an opportunity to create wild flights of fancy in each window, each of which is unique and strange. Most of the text of the book is the discussion between Joe and his mother as they walk down the street, with her trying to persuade him that he will have fun at the party.
Browne’s art really tells a lot of the story on the page. The discussions between Joe and his mother are shown in panels with speech bubbles. They are shown in only blues while what they see in the windows are done in full color. This makes the different windows pop on the page, in stark contrast to the limited palette of the main characters. By the end of the book though, Joe and his mother are full color once the party is over.
Another wondrous book by Browne, this is perfect for getting children worried about new experiences to be creative and even a bit wild about how they think about them. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.