Today, I have a review AND a giveaway! It is my stop on the blog tour for Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson. This book is about a little boy’s journey. Physically, he is going on a train journey. But emotionally, Milo is going on a much more powerful kind of journey. Milo realises that you can’t judge someone by their appearance. And it is the masterful way Matt and Christian have intertwined this emotional journey with the train ride that makes this picture book timeless.
Milo and his big sister are going on a long train journey to visit their mum in prison. Milo looks around at the other people on the train and imagines their lives. He draws what he thinks they might do when they get off the train.
Then, a little boy gets on the train. He looks nothing like Milo. Milo imagines they live very different lives. He draws the little boy living like a prince.
When Milo gets off the train, so does the little boy. It turns out they are both going to the same place. They are both going to visit their mums in prison. It is at this moment that Milo realises you can’t judge anyone, just by what they look like.
Knowing this, Milo thinks back to his earlier drawings. He imagines alternatives. Perhaps the grumpy man doesn’t live alone, perhaps he has a family. Perhaps, the woman in the wedding dress isn’t on her way to meet her husband, but her wife. Importantly, when Milo imagines these things, he now sees it as a possibility, not a conclusion.
Reading this book, I instantly felt like I was sat on the train with Milo. I grew up in London, and going on the underground was part of my daily life. I remember sitting on the crowded carriages, just like Milo, and imagining the lives of those around me. Together Matt and Christian have created an authentic atmosphere of what it’s like to travel on a busy city train, making it relatable for all children. Themes of prejudice are explored throughout the book. I think the most powerful image for me was Milo, looking at himself and wondering how people see him.
The book is fairly text heavy, but for me the real story is wordless: it is told through Milo’s drawings. My three-year old was most fascinated by Milo’s drawings – it made the book accessible to her. She looked at how Milo had drawn the characters at the start of the train journey and how he’d re-drawn them at the end.
Milo Imagines the World is a thought-provoking picture book on being open-minded, told in an accessible way for young children. It is a journey within a journey, illustrations within illustrations and layer upon layer of beautiful storytelling. This would be an excellent book to share with school-age children to spark conversations about prejudice, unconscious bias as well as thinking about universally shared experiences of family, love and hope.
Published by Macmillan, 16 February 2021
If you would like to WIN a copy of Milo Imagines the World then make sure to enter my giveaway! It is running over on Twitter and Instagram and for a bonus entry leave a comment to this blog post.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.