I Can Be Anything!

Jerry Spinelli, Author, Jimmy Liao, Illustrator
Jerry Spinelli, Author, Jimmy Liao, Illustrator , illus. by Jimmy Liao. Little, Brown $16.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-316-16226-5
Reviewed on: 02/01/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010

Newbery Medalist Spinelli (My Daddy and Me ) again demonstrates his versatility as a writer in this buoyant riff on a familiar theme. “When I grow up, what shall I be?” asks the young narrator, answering this question with blithe, whimsical options, pictured with playful exaggeration in Liao's (The Sound of Colors ) energetic watercolor and acrylic art. Accompanied by frolicking bunnies, the boy envisions himself as a “puddle stomper/ apple chomper/ mixing-bowl licker/ tin-can kicker,” among numerous other “professions.” Though often clad in overalls, in some scenarios he wears more fanciful attire, hovering in a butterfly costume as a “honeysuckle smeller” or performing in a clown suit for a sad lion as a “silly-joke teller.” Liao's artwork runs with the simple, evocative phrases, striking a balance between the classic and the contemporary (on many pages, the boy resembles nothing so much as a modern-day Little Boy Blue, yet he's equally comfortable commanding the stage as a jester or magician). It's an uplifting, imaginative vision of life's possibilities that suggests that there are no limits—not even the sky. Ages 3–6. (Mar.)

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