Twenty Questions

Candlewick. Mar. 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536215137.
K-Gr 2–Reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg’s Mysteries of Harris Burdick, but without the eeriness, Barnett captions a set of Robinson’s flattened, brightly hued, paper-collage style cartoon scenes with open-ended questions for inventive storysmiths: “How many animals can you not see in this [picture] because they’re hiding from the tiger?” “What is this boy” (who is standing between an ostrich and a tortoise in a wheelchair) “hiding behind his back?” “What kind of beast lives in this bathtub? And what does it eat?” The illustrator gets into the act by challenging viewers to concoct plotlines from random common items set in wordless arrays on the endpapers and, in a surreal transformation that just gets stranger the more it’s looked at, turning one of a pair of lion paws in a scene into a full lion by adding a few inked lines and a tail. And perhaps with an eye to the Oh, the Places You’ll Go! market, at the end a ship heads for the horizon. “Will you go with it? Are you ever coming back?”
VERDICT An inspiring set of story prompts for younger audiences, with some longer thoughts for older ones slipped in.

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