What If...

What If...


Written by Thierry Lenain
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick

Sitting on an island, a young child watches the world. He observes its troubles and he thinks ​about how the world could be different, and better.

What if it was the child who decided to be born? Here, from the belly of his mother, now round like an island, the child looks out at the world. Despite all of the trouble and heartache, he decides to be born, strong in his belief that he can help make the world a better place. Stunningly illustrated by Olivier Tallec, with strong colors and sketchy lines, WHAT IF... is a book that gives us a sense of purpose in being born, reminding us that our task is caring for the world and for each other.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-281-7
11.68" (W) x 9.06" (H) • 32 pages • HCJ

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A CBC “Hot Off The Press” Selection of April 2019

A child sat on his island, looking out at the world and thinking.’ So begins this beautifully illustrated, sparely worded picture book in which a child, on each new spread, envisions a more just, peaceful, and thriving world than the one he sees. […] More meditative parable than story, this unusual and moving offering may be best suited as a prompt for reflection and conversation among readers who are asking questions about compassionate values, the power of individual action, and the role of imagination in creating a loving, life-sustaining world for all.” —Publishers Weekly

"Sobering and provocative." —Kirkus Reviews

“Hope Springs Eternal in the heart of a child and the love of a parent.” —Laurie Conney, Bookseller, The Bookstore Plus

"The simple yet profound narrative and Tallec’s soulful, tender illustrations make What If… the young imagination’s counterpart to Albert Camus’s famous assertion that ‘judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.’” —Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

“I enjoyed reading this powerfully illustrated story. Think of all the potential and renewal that future children can embark on! This story challenges older generations to conserve and better our world for the next.” —Kayla Kempf, Bookseller, The Bookstore Plus

"Stunningly illustrated by Olivier Tallec with strong colors and sketchy lines, What If… is a picture book written by Thierry Lenain and translated into English by Claudia Zoe Bedrick that gives children ages 6-9 a sense of purpose in being born, reminding us that our task is caring for the world and for each other. What If... is a unique, thoughtful, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections with a strongly positive message." —The Midwest Book Review

"Seated on a red orb amid a cheery scattering of colorful flowers, a child ponders the ills of the world and possible solutions. ...The poetic, even fanciful glimpses of human irresponsibility within the narrative often seem obscure for children, yet there are thought-provoking possibilities for stimulating discussion and thought." —School Library Journal, Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

The concepts and intentions behind the story have great merit. The illustrations are beautiful, profound and thought-provoking.” —Sandy Kelly, JV Fletcher Library (Westford, MA) and retired School Librarian in Carlisle, MA, Youth Services Book Review


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