In this modern fable of imaginative inquisition, a boy finds and follows IT, wondering along the way if IT is a monster, a furry bear, or perhaps a wild thing. In the process, he makes a surprising new friend.
How dull the world would be if all the children’s books fulfilled the same, rote expectations. If books never surprised or shocked then we’d find the world filled with dull books creating dull brains in dull children. Blah. Happily, we know this is not the case. There were a host of books out this year like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The kinds of books that make Americans blink, blush, and occasionally run for the hills. If a book makes you do a double take, it’s worthy of today’s list. 2019 Unconventional Children’s Books Etienne Delessert is one of our greats. When he puts out a new picture book, he does not follow the rules. In a time when the term “IT” brings to mind Stephen King fare, you would think any author using the same word would eschew peculiarities entirely. Instead, Delessert dares us to plumb our subconscious and almost plays with our expectations when it comes to that King tale. The story here is described by its publisher in this way: “In this modern fable of imaginative inquisition, a boy finds and follows IT, wondering along the way if IT is a monster, a furry bear, or perhaps a wild thing. In the process, he makes a surprising new friend.” I mean, a boy meets a shapeshifting creature called IT. That right there is fascinating. It’s grounds for a horror story, absolutely, but what Delessert does is show what happens if you take that same concept and turn it in a different direction. Some of the best picture books take fears and frights and give child readers the tools to confront them. This book is very much in that same tradition.
–Elizabeth Bird, Fuse #8 Production (An SLJ blog) , 12/25/2019