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Book Review: Another by Christian Robinson

I read Another when it first came out in 2019. I read it quickly and while I thought the illustrations were, as Christian Robinson’s always are, gorgeous. However, it didn’t move me and I gave it a 3 star review on Goodreads, and never thought about it again. It wasn’t on my list of books to buy for the library. 

Another, written and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Published in 2019 by Antheneum. ISBN: 978-1-5344-2167-7

Fast forward to last Saturday. The day was wide open and my daughter suggested we head to the library and get, in her words, “a big ol’ stack of picture books and read away.” So, that’s what we did. This has long been a favorite activity of ours and we hadn’t done it in awhile. We separated and then gave ourselves 10 minutes to find 5-10 picture books that grab our attention or are by authors we love. Another was in her stack and it was the first book she picked to read when we got home. 

Sometimes adults just need to re-learn how to do things from a child. I always let my kids guide our reading sessions together and my daughter, without knowing I had already read this book, single handedly turned this book from a 3 star review to a 5 star review. Here’s what happened: 

“Ooh, I like how the cover (book jacket) is so white, but you see the polka dots underneath, just like the “O” in Another

Oops, missed that the first time I read it. 

This is the cover spread with the book jacket off. Notice how it matches the “O” from the book jacket! I love the representation of diverse characters. My daughter loved that the cat made an appearance too.

Flipping back to previous pages, she said, “I think it’s so clever how she took the blanket off her bed and used it as a rope to climb down into the other world and find her cat.” 

Oops, missed that the first time I read it. 

“It’s so fun to flip the book around and see how everything is like a mirror! Well, except for a few differences.”

Oops, I didn’t take the time to interact with the book this way the first time I read it.

“I think her shirt has a picture of a planet on it because she’s going to travel along a space continuum.” 

Oops, missed that the first time I read it. 

“I like how the kids in the book are all playing simple things, but they all seem so happy.”

Oops, missed that the first time I read it. 

So, the moral of the story is…books that seem simple, like this wordless picture book are often some of the most complicated texts because they require us to slow down and use our imaginations. They aren’t really meant for browsing, are they? 

This book would make a wonderful group or family writing project! Another point of discussion is the title. What did Christian Robinson have in mind with the title? Hint: This is an especially useful question if you child notices the blue mouse on the last page! 

If your child loves the illustrations, Christian is the illustrator of some of my other favorite picture books, including Gaston and Antoinette (both by Kelly DiPucchio, two perennial favorites of my students) and other collaborations with the incredible Matt de la Pena, Last Stop on Market Street, for which he won a Caldecott, Carmela Full of Wishes, and Milo Imagines the World. 

This book has earned a starred review from Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers’ Weekly. Apparently, these reviewers actually read the book it was made to be read: slowly, deliberately, and with an open mind willing to wonder.  Although written for preschool-2nd grade, nearly anyone would be intrigued by this wonder.

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