Publications

15 Years of “If…”

If by Sarah Perry - cover art

 

Can you handle this book? It’s one of the most challenging we’ve ever published. Not in the words—it has only 97 of them—but in what it does to your mind.

Featuring beautiful surrealist-inspired paintings by artist Sarah Perry, If… imagines what the world would be like if toothpaste were caterpillars, tarantulas read braille, and toes grew where our teeth should be.

Many adults just don’t get it. I don’t like spiders. I’m sorry, why would I want a giant caterpillar on my toothbrush? Toes in your mouth? Eww.

If caterpillars were toothpaste - illustration from If... by Sarah Perry

If… just turned 15, and with 100,000 copies sold, it’s Getty Publications’ most popular children’s title ever. How can this be? Just show the book to any child. My four-year-old nephew was completely entranced. Every image started conversations—weird, unexpected, creative ones.

If mice were hair? “They’d eat ears!”

If clothing were butterflies? “They’d fly away and then you’d be naked! NAKED, hee hee!”

If mice were ears - illustration from If... by Sarah Perry

And, since every page started with the same word, he enjoyed the double triumph of successful reading. The chance to practice fun words every kid should know—like hummingbirds and lightning—was an added bonus.

The book brings the magical into the everyday, making you believe that a dog-shaped mountain might just be out there somewhere, or whales in outer space.

Artists and art teachers appreciate If…, as shown by the 24 five-star reviews on Amazon:

The best illustrations of any book I’ve seen in a 30-year teaching career.

I’m planning to use this book in art lessons to encourage students to see more than what they expect to be there.

But with illustrations so vivid, not everyone can handle it.

If toes were teeth - illustration from If... by Sarah Perry

The mice-were-hair and teeth-were-toes pictures are going to give me nightmares, and I’m an adult! Maybe if I were a child, I would like them?

Exactly.

When I was leaving my sister’s house—I had to surrender the book, by the way—my nephew was rushing to brush his teeth, a task he normally hates. He was gleefully checking to see if his teeth had been replaced by toes.

If spiders could read braille - illustration from If... by Sarah Perry

if_cats_lg

Tagged , , , , Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. MatrixMistake
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Nice project… but i think that this book isnt for children, is more like for adults with the ability to imagine, dream, build & create

  2. Elena
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I have used this book more times than I can count in my teaching career with all ages ranging from 4-15. It is always well received. I think that this is one of the best books to help students understand the power of imagination. My favorite page is “if music could be held”: ) Congratulations of 15 years of publishing an amazing book!

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Elena, thanks so much for your comment and sharing this experience! I love the fact that teenagers in your classes have enjoyed the book too.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Tumblr

    • photo from Tumblr

      All Hail Tiberius, Least Media-Savvy of the Roman Emperors

      Tiberius was proclaimed Roman emperor on September 17 in AD 14, exactly 2,000 years ago.

      He was also a bit wacko. “He was the least media-savvy emperor you could imagine,” says curator David Saunders, who has been in charge of this bronze portrait of Tiberius which leaves us on September 22. He point to this description found in the writings of Cassius Dio:

      Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed…In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course, far more and greater successes were attained.

      Moreover, David tells us, “Tiberius’s accession itself was a farrago: Tiberius sort-of feigning reluctance, the Senate bullying him, he being all, ‘Well, if-I-have-to,’ and in the end—according to Suetonius—saying he’ll do it as long as he can retire.”

      Suetonius is full of great, albeit spurious, anecdotes about poor old Tiberius, David reports. “When someone addressed him as ‘My Lord,’ it is said, Tiberius gave warning that no such insult should ever again be thrown at him.”

      Happy accession, My Lord!

      Portrait Head of Tiberius (“The Lansdowne Tiberius”), early 1st century A.D., Roman. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro. Currently on view at the Getty Villa following conservation and study.

      09/17/14

  • Flickr