Imagine a City by Elise Hurst

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Imagine a City by Elise Hurst (InfoSoup)

Enter a world filled with rabbits, tigers and bears mixed in with humans. It’s a world where fish serve as buses and then fly through the air. It’s a world where art reaches beyond its frames. Dinosaurs still fly, cats play chess, umbrellas lift you into the sky. Told in simple yet soaring text, this picture book invites young readers to enter a world that is reminiscent of Narnia in its magical qualities, a wondrous place where mid-century cars mix with elegant trains  and dreams of all sizes come true.

The poetic text of this picture book serves as a broad invitation to dream along with the author. And though the text is lovely, it is the illustrations that truly shine. They are done in ink and are filled with small details that bring the world fully alive. I appreciate that this imaginary world is an urban setting, offering even more children the ability to see their world as magical.

I’ve taken photos of some of the interiors of the book to give a better sense of the world that Hurst has created. It is one filled with double spreads of detailed art but inside and outside of galleries:imagine-a-city-interior

It is one with bears and foxes happily on the same page with people:

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This is a beautiful book that is just right for sending children off to their own nighttime dreams or creating new ones during the day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Doubleday Books for Young Readers.

27 Magic Words by Sharelle Byars Moranville

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27 Magic Words by Sharelle Byars Moranville (InfoSoup)

Kobi knows that her parents are still alive. When they sailed off on a two month adventure five years ago and didn’t return, Kobi was still able to see them when she used the magic word “Avanti!” It is one of 27 words that her writer mother gave her when she was little and told her were magical. Kobi and her older sister lived with their grandmother in Paris but now are heading to Des Moines, Iowa to go to school for a few months and live with their Uncle Wim. As Kobi tries to adapt to her new environment, she finds herself telling lies defensively as her classmates ask her questions. As the lies begin to catch up with Kobi, she is forced to realize that she has been lying to herself as well.

Moranville has written a book that is a blissful read. She uses small moments to speak to larger issues, captures details that bring the world she has created fully alive. There is Norman who wears clothes to blend in and not be noticed. There is Kobi’s older sister who is struggling with OCD. The entire family fills the pages with art, gardens, food and color. It is a beautifully built world.

The writing throughout the novel is exceptional. There are paragraphs that are completely exquisite. This one appears on page 108 and is about a woman struggling with Alzheimer’s:

Ms. Hancock was like a beautiful picture that had been rained on, then driven over by a car, then left under a pile of leaves to be nibbled by squirrels, and the only beautiful bit left was a tiny patch of incredible blue in one corner.

A strong novel that blends grief, lies, loss and the potential for real magic. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.