What If by Jonathan Shipton is an exciting adventure where YOU are the main character! Your imagination can’t help but come alive in this fun story. Read my full book review here.
What If, by Jonathan Shipton, Published 1999
Just Quickly, What Is It?
What if it stopped raining? What if you went outside and found a giant sunflower and it took you high, higher, really high?
What if you met a girl and she took you on an exciting adventure through the sky?
This story awakens your imagination and brings a fun, new surprise with every page turn.
What if when you got back, there was a final surprise?
Tell Me More, What’s It All About?
The main character is written in the perspective of being YOU. “What if you were really good at climbing and up you went..”
Different scenarios are presented and you’re encouraged to imagine you were involved; “What if you carried on until you were higher than a bird can fly..”
Each scenario encourages bravery and wonder and presents an exciting adventure as a reward for involvement!
You meet a girl and she’s ‘Brilliant!’ She knows how to bounce on clouds and takes you with her!
You’re curious, you’re excited!, you’re frightened, you’re brave!
And when you get back home, there’s a chance for an adventure closer to home..
We are left wondering! The last page leaves an opportunity for the reader to imagine their own ending!
YOU, and a girl named Arabella!
So What Do I Love About It?
What I love most about this story is the ending.. or the opportunity to imagine what the real ending will be.
As an early childhood teacher this was always one of my favourite books to read to preschoolers as it allowed us to have the most fascinating discussions following the story, with the children imagining the ending, or rather using their imagination to propose what could happen next! I would even ask them to draw or paint pictures depicting what they thought the next scene could be, based on how the book finished.
I love the cheerful illustrations and the variety of adventures YOU’re so brave enough to embark on!
I love that the adventurer is YOU!
It’s not a random character who is curious and brave, it’s YOU, so like in old school ‘Choose your own adventure’ stories, you feel more involved in the story events.
Children will love wondering and feeling brave and discovering a new suggested adventure on each page. They will also love the opportunity to guess what could happen next after you read the last page.
Weak Points For Me
The only thing which is a weak point for me in this story is the line, “And you’re not sure if you like girls.” While the entire story is a feast for the imagination, this particular line leaves me wondering why it was a necessary inclusion. Could it have been omitted and the story remain just as wonderful? In my opinion, yes. I believe it allows young readers to question why someone would like or dislike someone DUE to their gender, not because of any other reason or personality trait.
Other than this line, like I said, this has always been one of my favourites. In fact when I’m reading it aloud, I simply omit that particular line myself.
Quick summary review
‘What If’ is a roller coaster for the imagination. It encourages the reader (and protagonist, aka YOU) to wonder the What if in every exciting scenario. The adventures are thrilling, sometimes a little dangerous, but most of all, FUN!
This story is presented as an engaging picture book with the ‘What If’ words repeated throughout the story, encouraging your imagination in different suggested scenarios. The language is aimed at preschool and toddler children (aged 2-6) but will definitely captivate older children too, up to even 8 years old, with adults most likely enjoying the adventure as they participate in the excitement with the child as they read along. I recommend this story to be used as a discussion point or an inspiration for further creativity. As I have used it myself with children aged 4 – 5, it could most definitely be used in the same way in younger primary school aged children, encouraging artwork or further storytelling inspired from this book.
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