What if you woke up one day and the pencil you’d always used to tell your stories had disappeared? That by itself is likely an easy problem to solve, as you’d have other ways to express yourself. But what if all of your creative outlets had disappeared? Would that stop you from creating? What If by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Mike Curato, addresses just this conundrum.
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Inspired by a true story from Berger’s life, when she had to evacuate her apartment and lost all of her creative materials except her sketchbook, What If is an ode to the idea that anything can be used as an art supply — anything can be used to express imagination, creativity, and emotion!
What If opens with an unnamed main character who loves to use pencil and paper to write, draw art, and tell the stories that “come from [her] heart.” But “what if that pencil one day disappeared?” No big deal — origami is a terrific way to tell stories, too! Unfortunately for our main character, every replacement (going beyond what you might have top of mind for art and including light and shadow, singing, and moving her body) she finds continues to disappear. Rather than feel discouraged and give up, she stays optimistic and open minded, realizing that even if every single art material she can think of disappeared, she’ll always have her mind, and “there’d always be stories to seek and to find.”
While Berger’s story is indeed inspiring and easy to read aloud (the rhyming verse is terrifically done!), Curato’s mixed-media illustrations tell their own story of creativity! You’re going to want to take the dust cover off of this one and check out the artwork hidden on the hardcover of the book. Then, after reading through the story once, go back a second time and take you time with the illustrations, starting with the endpapers and noticing the colors, moods, and stories on every single page.
As its starred Kirkus review states, What If is “a testament to the power of an imaginative mind.” What If may be just the book you need to inspire some summer creating! If you liked this, be sure to check out the rest of the books on our creativity booklist! Then, you can use the affiliate links below to purchase your own copy.