March 29, 2017

THE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE THING

Basak Agaoglu's The Almost Impossible Thing had me scratching my head for days the first time I read it. After I had finished it, I didn't put it away, but placed it on my nightstand, and every night for a week I looked at it before I went to bed. I was confused by it, and couldn't put my finger on what I'd just read. But the fact that it stuck with me -- and not just because the illustrations are spectacular -- said something to me: this is a book worth reading and rereading. It's a book that deserves consideration and thought. And it's a book that has quickly become a favorite for me.



Let me start at the beginning. This is a book about how teamwork makes the dream work and how people rarely accomplish anything on their own. And it definitely takes a read or two to grasp that idea. When a bunny looks up at a bird one day, a dream begins to form, the dream to fly. And we watch this bunny try all sorts of things to try to fly, from using a trampoline and feathers to grand acrobatics. But it isn't until halfway through the book that we realize it is not the same bunny on every spread. Rather, it's multiple bunnies who all have similar dreams of learning to fly. And it isn't until they all eventually come together that they are able to achieve that dream. 


The most interesting part to me is how the book is almost told from the dream's point of view, the dream being flight. The dream doesn't know its limitations, choosing only to see the individuals attempting to achieve it. We never see anyone give up or decide that a flying rabbit isn't possible. Instead, as readers, we see perseverance and trial and error as the rabbits move closer to achieving a collective dream. And as much as the rabbits work together, the dream works with them, bringing them all closer to each other.

The bright and beautiful illustrations were created from block printing, gouache, and ink, and the texture of each scene jumps off the page. The spreads are well-designed so that we see a rabbit going up on one spread, taking with him our hope that he will fly, and then crashing down on the next. But they never give up, and the spread of them all flying together makes the whole journey worth every moment.


The Almost Impossible Thing publishes from Philomel next Tuesday, April 4!