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… 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!”
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.
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?
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 He was gleefully checking to see if his teeth had been replaced by toes.