An ordinary afternoon at the playground becomes something more via the mind’s eye. “Guess what?” Duke begins, as a child recounts a day’s explorations while walking hand-in-hand with an adult. From a swing set, the child flies over the trees toward the moon, and a slide’s steep dive becomes a snowy mountaintop descent alongside skiers and snowboarders. As the youth, wearing pigtails and layers of purple and green, moves through the inclusive playground, page turns transform the landscape from ordinary to imaginative: a merry-go-round near a pond becomes a ship at sea; a camel-shaped rocker becomes a desert adventure. Duke’s sparse poetic narrative allows the reader to linger on her textured, surreal illustrations, which evoke the pulse of adventure and sensory exploration (“I crawled ashore.../ through the dark and cold”) all the way home. A quiet celebration of the limitless world within. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—There are no limits to a child's imagination. An ordinary trip to the local playground is transformed into a fantastic adventure as a little girl creates a colorful and dynamic background for her day. Using her surroundings, she is able to reach as high as the birds in the sky from the top of the stairs that allow her to slide down the side of a mountain. She and her friends are not just riding on pretend animals in the sand pit; instead, they are riding their real counterparts on a race through the desert. At the end of the day, the child has not strayed far from home physically, but her mind has allowed her to explore the world. Short, succinct text accompanies whimsical illustrations, allowing readers to focus on the visual component more than the words themselves. Even without the words, readers can describe the story from the pictures alone, immersing themselves in this world. The images vary from real to imagined, sometimes distinct and sometimes combined, illustrating the fluidity with which imagination intermingles with reality. The girl's purple sweater is a constant and pops off the more muted tones of the surrounding landscapes on each page. Readers of all ages will connect with this story and will be inspired to go outside and discover all the possibilities that exist there. VERDICT Young readers will especially delight in the simple text and endless possibility found in this fancifully illustrated picture book.—Mary Lanni, formerly of Denver Public Library
A young child recounts a series of playful endeavors to an adult companion as they walk hand in hand through a city.
The story follows the narrator's journey around various playground activities and provides a window into a child's creativity. In the retelling of the day, swinging on a swingset becomes flying, a slide becomes a snowy mountainside, a pond becomes an ocean, and a tunnel becomes a dark cave. Especially sweet is the image of the imagined jungle animals following the pair home from the park as the child enjoys a piggyback ride. Relationships between characters are left open to interpretation. The child waves goodbye to the adult from the park and is embraced by someone new, maybe a parent or caregiver. Duke's line drawings are set against simple, often abstract backgrounds in cool tones. The illustrations' muted color palette paired with the minimalist prose gives the story a subdued feeling even though it centers on play and imagination. Readers don't learn many details about the characters in this story, but children of color, a child who uses a wheelchair, and an adult with a hearing aid are depicted. The protagonist has straight, black hair and light-brown skin; the adult companion has somewhat darker-brown skin, and the adult at home presents white.
Playground fun becomes much more through the eyes of a child in this simple story. (Picture book. 1-4)