An amazingly astute, artful unfurling of tightly coiled childhood social anxieties.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The magic is in the dreamlike scenes that appear in each successive house’s window—are they real, or Joe’s anxieties made manifest? ... Beautifully and subtly executed, with Brown’s extraordinary illustrative powers at work throughout.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The intriguing gouache and crayon illustrations are enjoyable to study as Browne subtly inserts strange images, including a rabbit on a roof and the shadow of a menacing bear. The common fear of dealing with a new situation is handled well, and Browne’s treatment of the topic will have readers nodding with understanding.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
The discussion between levelheaded mother and socially anxious son continues in dialogue that moves seamlessly between speech balloons. When Joe and his mom finally get to the last house on the block—the house that must be Tom’s—the strange silhouettes reveal themselves to be…a very cheery party with children Joe already knows. With its sophisticated visual humor, this is Browne at his artistically weird and psychologically complex best.
—The Horn Book
A wonderful introduction for older children to both graphic novels and surrealist painters.
A fantastical proto-gothic tale in its gouache and crayon artwork. ... The neat geometric framing of the houses, crafted with Browne’s usual delicate precision, both controls and emphasizes the surreal absurdity of the strange living rooms’ contents, cunningly keeping anxiety at arm’s length without completely letting it go. Even non-anxious kids have experienced the utter weirdness of other people’s houses, and audiences will be amused by the conceit and understanding of Joe’s trepidation.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The picture-book author and illustrator Anthony Browne has a special ability to touch sore parts of the heart, and in "What If . . . ?" he sympathizes with the almost paralyzing anxiety and concern that a young child may feel before social events. ... Worriers ages 5-8 will want to turn these strange, beautiful and comforting pages many, many times.
—The Wall Street Journal
Thereare lots of picture books about children who worry, ones that try in various ways to reassure children that everything, in the end, will be OK. But I can promise you that you haven’t seen one quite like Anthony Browne’s What If . . . ? [A] story that manages to be offbeat, cryptic and comforting all at once... Surreal and delightfully droll, this one’s a rare bird.
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