It's woven into every single day. We drift into daydreams of accomplishments to reach for the next hour, day or weeks ahead. We form visions of special spaces to create. We brainstorm with others to make something better. We pretend to be other people at other places in other times to enhance or survive our current circumstances. These pictures in our minds are painted with hope.
Our imaginations are a gift allowing us to create pathways for the impossible to become the probable. Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story (Henry Holt and Company, July 16, 2019) written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss features two endearing characters we met in Brave Enough for Two (A Hoot & Olive Story (Henry Holt and Company, June 12, 2018). These friends are embarking on another adventure to find something valuable.
Olive had a great big imagination, which was only just a smidge smaller than her huge heart. Her best friend, Hoot, had a heart that was equally big.
One day during a rainstorm, when playing outside is out of the question, Olive wants to explore in the realm of make-believe. While Hoot agrees it is a good idea, he cannot imagine a single thing. He is sure he lost his imagination or worse yet, it might be broken. Olive is certain they can find it or fix it.
First, as the rain comes down even harder, Olive thinks a puddle outside the window is getting deeper and the house suddenly shifts. As she shouts about the house drifting away, Hoot still only sees a puddle. Next, Olive grabs a colander and rigs it with wires. She tells Hoot it works to unscramble his mind. Unfortunately, he does not see the G I A N T in the corner of the room.
Olive tries another tactic. Hoot is unable to see the fairies in the basement. Olive is the kind of friend who never gives up. All sorts of things are attempted but Hoot cannot imagine. After sitting in silence for a bit, Hoot makes a statement. It awakens an idea in Olive's mind.
Eyes closed; Hoot tries again. All good things have a tiny beginning. Sometimes things are not lost or not broken. We simply need a friend to help us flourish through love.
Using narrative and heartwarming conversations Jonathan D. Voss brings readers into this enchanting story. Without reading the first book, he describes all we need to know about Olive and Hoot in the first two sentences. In the third sentence we know there is a problem and we can't wait to find out what happens.
Each attempt by Olive to help Hoot leads us into spellbinding possibilities. They are building to a changing point. This moment, thanks to Jonathan D. Voss, is one to tuck away into your memory for future reference. It bursts into happiness and imagining the best thing of all. Here is a passage.
They stepped into the dark.
Something fluttered. Olive froze.
"Do you hear that?" she whispered.
When you open the dust jacket the landscape on the front extends over the spine to the far left on the back. The glowing sky courtesy of sunlight provides an atmosphere of magic. If readers look closely, they can see the imaginations of Olive and Hoot have fashioned another world in the water. A bird becomes a dragon. Dock posts become castle spires. A rowboat becomes a pirate ship. To the left, on the back, the calm water becomes a stormy sea with hints of events to come within the book.
A sepia-toned wash spreads over the front and back of the book case. A wide cloth in pale blue covers the spine. On the front Olive and Hoot, holding hands (hand and wing) and carrying sticks, walk among daisies. On the back, a tiny field mouse looks up at a single flower. The image of Olive and Hoot walking hand-in-hand becomes part of a diamond pattern on the opening and closing endpapers in two shades of pale blue.
On the verso page Olive and Hoot are decked in armor as heroic knights. A field of flowers frames the text on the title page. All the illustrations are rendered using
watercolor with pen and ink on Arches Hot Press Watercolor Board and added color digitally.
They are full-page pictures, smaller images placed on the sepia-toned wash or dramatic double-page visuals. Sometimes the illustrations span a page, cross the gutter and make a column for text on the opposite page. While there is a lightness around the elements in each image, we are aware of the rainy day by the color palette.
Readers will be captivated by all the details in each picture. Certain items are larger than normal; ABC wooden blocks, flowers in a floating vase, large boots, a discarded beverage can or a one metal jack. Some details in one illustration will appear in a new one as the story progresses such as their floating house or the G I A N T. This strengthens the idea of the power of imagination.
One of my many, many favorite illustrations is of the G I A N T in the living room. Hoot wearing the colander with wire antenna coming from the top is listening to Olive. She is pointing to shadows in the room. The G I A N T fills up the entire right page crosses the gutter and his right hand is next to Olive on the left, palm-side down. He is kneeling on his right knee and the other leg, bent at the knee, extends from the floor to the ceiling. He is a friendly G I A N T, dressed in shabby shoes, a white shirt and green tie, green pants and a red workman's cap. He is holding a single daisy in his left hand.
This book, Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss, is one of those books you immediately love but with every reread it fills up more of your heart. You are emotionally attached to the characters and their adventures. Our imaginations are precious and vital just like best friends. This is a story which celebrates both with love. I highly recommend this book for your personal and professional collections.
To learn more about Jonathan D. Voss and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. At his site you can view interior images from the book and a wonderful book trailer. (I've lost count of how many times I've watched it.) Jonathan D. Voss has accounts on Facebook and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view interior images.