The first two reviews for Milo Imagines the World are in and both are stars!
Christian and I can’t wait for Feb 2 so we can share Milo with readers!
*One Sunday each month, Milo and his older sister take a subway ride that always makes him feel like “a shook-up soda.” He dives into his sketchbook, drawing pictures of people on the subway into scenes of his own imagining. Today there’s a lady in a bridal dress; he pictures her floating joyously into the air with her new husband in a hot air balloon. There’s a trio of breakdancers, and he pictures them profiled and shunned by a white shop owner and a doorman (“Milo doesn’t really like this picture, so he puts away his pad”). The image that will haunt him later in the day is the blue-eyed, spit-shined boy about his age who’s holding hands with his equally pulled-together father; surely he lives a life of luxury in a castle. When they finally exit and make their way into a line forming at a large, impersonal building, Milo sees the little boy again and realizes they are on the same mission: to visit their incarcerated mothers (“Milo studies the boy in the suit, his dad rubbing his thin shoulders. And a thought occurs to him: Maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face”). Now he rethinks his images. Maybe the bride is wedding a wife; maybe the breaker crew is welcomed home by the ritzy doorman. Enhancing a text that flows like poetry, Robinson’s artwork shifts between a third-person view of the action and Milo’s naïve crayon-like images. Fans of Last Stop on Market Street (BCCB 2/15) may suspect another de la Peña curve ball; again his “Never assume” message, utterly and gloriously devoid of preachiness, lands solidly in the strike zone. EB
*A subway ride marked by anxious people-watching builds up to Milo’s most important moment of the month.
As the subway train pulls away from the station, Milo, holding his drawing pad and pencil, sits beside his big sister, who holds her cellphone. Both kids present Black. Milo is “a shook-up soda” of excitement, confusion, and worry. “To keep himself from bursting,” Milo observes the people around him on the train and imagines the lives they go home to, drawing scenes of their lives in his notebook. He imagines one pale-skinned man with a five o’clock shadow going home to a rat-infested apartment building, eating alone. He imagines a young White boy in a suit going home to a castle in a horse-drawn carriage. But when Milo gets off the train, he is surprised to find that White boy heading to the same destination as him. His surprise leads him to rethink his assessment of the people on the train, expanding his ideas of who people might be. With the same combination of wide-eyed observation and suspenseful buildup to a socially conscious revelation that readers cherished in this duo’s award-winning Last Stop on Market Street (2015), this picture book offers a child’s view of the impacts of incarceration on families. De la Peña’s descriptive language and Robinson’s innocent, endearing art make for another winning package. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.1% of actual size.)
A memorable, thought-provoking story poised to make a difference for many. (Picture book. 4-10)