Today I’m sharing a perception-flipping new picture book from award-winning duo Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson.
‘Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There’s the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There’s the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there’s the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo–walking the same path, going to the exact same place–Milo realizes that you can’t really know anyone just by looking at them.’
I think we’ve all played a very similar game to Milo whilst on a long journey – gazing at your fellow travellers and imagining who they are and where they’re going: home to cold soup and a lonely game of solitaire, to get married, to the supermarket. Curiosity is a good thing! Milo’s sketchbook and the colourful, childlike style of the illustrations, help capture his vivid imagine and wonder at his surroundings.
However, what this book very cleverly does is flip Milo’s (and our) perceptions/ prejudices around with the arrival of a neat and tidy boy in pristine white trainers. Milo imagines that he must be heading home to his castle and butler. What he doesn’t imagine is that this boy is heading to the same place as him – to prison to visit his mum.
It’s brilliant that picture books are starting to acknowledge the diverse range of families which their readers live in. I have yet to see a book for this age range where a mother is shown as being in prison, but this is the reality for lots of children. As is the fact that although their mums may be temporarily absent, they are still bound together by love.
A relatable and conversation-provoking read for anyone aged 3+
*Many thanks to Two Hoots for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*