My boys and I have just come across renowned illustrator Raúl Cólon’s first fully authored picture book, Orson Blasts Off! (published in 2004), which is a real flight of the imagination. It’s about a boy who can see no end to boredom when his computer breaks down… until his jack-in-the-box called Weasel points to what is going on outside: it’s snowing, even though it’s July. Then Orson embarks on his adventures with great gusto: the North Pole, a desert island and even the stars.
The story is told through the dialogue between Orson and Weasel – indeed, it would make a good interactive read-aloud, as it’s really a script: but the wonderful illustrations add in the background as well as the wit and irony, so young readers/listeners will have to engage their imaginations too. It definitely provokes lots of comments and conversation – it’s not one to choose for a quick bedtime story, until it’s well established in the family repertoire!
My children love books which blur the edges between the “real” world and imaginary adventures: two which they have wanted read to them over and over again are Jo’s Storm by Caroline Pitcher, illustrated by Jackie Morris and Cloud Nine by Norman Silver, illustrated by Jan Ormerod, which are both out of print now and need to be sought out second hand… I can see that Orson Blasts Off! will be joining them on their bit of the bookshelf.
These books all star boys; there must be picture books out there which take girls off on amazing flights of the imagination too: any suggestions, anyone?