We were already ginormously HUGE fans of ‘You Choose‘, which is by the same crack team that have created this new book and were onto our second copy of it because the first had had its pages ‘loved off’ (to paraphrase the Skin Horse in the Margery Williams classic, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit‘). Therefore, we were over the moon to hear that ‘Just Imagine’ was coming out in time to take pride of place on C’s Christmas list. Luckily, Father Christmas was kind enough to bring deposit it under the Christmas tree and we’ve been enjoying it ever since.
The premise is beautifully simple. As with ‘You Choose’, the reader is given a simple prompt – no more than a few words – and a page full of brightly coloured images to get them started on creating their own stories. Whilst ‘You Choose’ was based more on real life, ‘Just Imagine’ invites children (and adults) to put themselves in all sorts of fantastical situations, such as deciding whether you’d like to live underground:
or what life might be like if you were made differently:
The possibilities for what this machine might be used for are endless and could fill any number of books all by themselves. C’s current favourite idea is that each part of the machine makes a different Fireman Sam toy, which then gets transported (via a huge chute direct from the factory) into his room, where they somehow allow him to actually *become* Fireman Sam and take part in many emergency rescues. He goes into detail about which bit of the machine adds which part of the toy and has even told me that, “There must be some bits of the machine that we can’t see, because they also need to add Wallaby One’s double harness and none of the bits here would work for that.”
I appreciate that some of you may now be completely baffled by all the Fireman Sam references (Wallaby One is a rescue helicopter, if that helps…?), but the only reason I’ve gone into such detail is simply to highlight how much discussion each and every page sparks. Other than its predecessor, ‘You Choose’, I can’t think of many other books that so cleverly enable the reader to create such a wide range of stories. (‘Would You Rather?‘, by John Burningham, is similar, but I’ll be honest and say that even though I ADORE his illustrations, C and H are more drawn to the bright colours of Nick Sharratt.)
Although I’d imagine the target audience for this book is pre-schoolers, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’d have been happy to use it with my Year 5 class when I was teaching. We used the outstanding illustrations in ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick‘ by Chris Van Allsburg as a stimulus for writing on many occasions, but ‘Just Imagine’ would have supplied a complete contrast and perhaps led to the creation of very different (though equally interesting) stories.
I can thoroughly recommend ‘Just Imagine’ as a must-buy for any family or classroom and would be really excited to hear what stories you and your children come up with after reading it!