Supposing by Alastair Reid, illustrated by JooHee Yoon

Supposing by Alastair Reid, illustrated by JooHee Yoon. Enchanted Lion Books, c1960, 2022. 9781592703760

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Alastair Reid, a well-known translator, New Yorker writer, and poet tried his hand at a children’s book in 1960 and this was the result. Newly reissued with fresh illustrations, this book of musings alternates between a pair of little boy and little girl narrators (both White) who take turns supposing various scenarios. Some of these scenarios seem fun and age-appropriate: suppose..I could be any size, I had fur, there were 12 of me, or I could tame a lion. Others may be of more interest to adults: suppose a fortune teller told me I would be a great traveler so I stayed home the rest of my life just to spite her or that a beautiful woman wanted to marry me and I said “maybe”. The illustrations resemble old-fashioned lithography, with simple shapes and backdrops, filled with bright colors and interesting textures. The pictures are large and humorous, with lots of captivating details; I certainly enjoyed leafing through its pages.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Unfortunately, I found several of the supposings to be pretty disturbing. Supposing…I collected hair at barber shops and sent it to people I didn’t like. Supposing..I tricked and then fired a bank manager. Supposing…my house was burning and I just laughed, took off all my clothes, and threw them into the fire. And so on. I did not find its weird amalgamation of innocent and sinister imaginings endearing.

To whom would you recommend this book? I can’t imagine who the audience for this book would be; possibly adults who remember the book from their own childhood or who appreciate weird picture books. The art is attractive and lively, and the open-ended nature of the questions could serve as a good writing prompt, if a teacher selected the less upsetting queries.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: March 23, 2022

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