If I Was the Sunshine

illus. by Loren Long. 48p. S. & S./Atheneum. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481472432.
PreS-Gr 1—A farm is the setting for a fanciful dialogue between a mother and daughter that occurs over the span of a day. The duo appears at the beginning and conclusion, viewed mostly at a distance or from behind. The one close-up reveals a girl with dark, straight ponytails, her face golden from the illumination of fireflies. Each conversational segment spans two spreads; the fourth (last) line, appearing after the pause of the page turn, rhymes with the second. Some ideas are imaginative and abstract: "if i was the silence/and you were a sound/i'd call you missing/and you'd call me found." Others are tangible and humorous: "if i was an apple/and you were a worm/you'd call me lunch/and i'd call you squirm." The dance of words and pictures is lovely, although it is curious that Fogliano abandoned the subjunctive mood in a book about "ifs." Long's acrylic paintings, some recalling the patchwork landscapes of Grant Wood, will show well with groups. Large figures fill the foreground, from a dappled cow whose bulk crosses the gutter to a hibernating grizzly bear spilling out of the verso, his frame pushing a field of snow up toward the heavens like a too-small blanket.
VERDICT The creative use of language and accessible, pleasing imagery will lead to rereadings, which in turn, will inspire listeners to invent their own playful verses.

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