The Wonder is a children’s picture book by British author/illustrator Faye Hanson. It’s about a boy who unleashes the power of his imagination, and from start to finish it is a work of art. In a world forever demanding they grow up faster, the book’s message to children is to slow down, daydream, let your imagination run riot. You never know where it will take you.
The story depicts a young boy wondering. Wondering where the birds fly, where clouds are made and what the world’s best playground might be like. Each time he does so he is admonished by a stern adult. One time for walking on freshly mown grass, another, bumping into passengers on the bus. His world, it seems, is not made for dreamers.
The illustrations are beautiful. The boy’s world is rendered in soft sepia tones; browns and beige to simulate the doldrums of everyday life. His imagination is depicted by majestic, full color swirls and loops. He goes through the school day, again being told not to daydream and to pay attention. It is only on arriving in his art class that he can set himself free.
‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’ – Picasso.
My boys love this book. It’s the sort of book that you find them poring over when you’ve sent them upstairs to put their socks away. Every page has countless wonders to discover.
If I have a reservation about the book, it’s that whilst his art teacher sets him free, two other teachers are hard on the boy for his daydreams. Most notably, his science teacher. I loved the sepia-toned chemistry class, complete with periodic table, but science needs creativity too. It seems a shame the book reinforces the idea that science is rigid and dull.
It’s probably only superannuated science graduates who will notice this. Children just soak up the pictures. In a world where there are countless things vying for our children’s attention, almost every minute of their waking lives, it’s nice to find a book, saying ‘Sit down, you need nothing more than your mind to create something truly magical.’
The ideal age for the book is probably 5+; pre-school children will miss the point. Whilst I couldn’t have bought it for him directly (pictures books are for his toddler brother) my 9-year-old loves this book too.
The Wonder is available in hardback and paperback, published by Templar Publishing. A special thank you to Sarah Watkins and her blog And Then I Read A Book, without which I may never have discovered the wonder that is The Wonder.
Do you have any favorite ‘imagination runs riot’ books? If so, what are they? Which book’s illustrations leave your children cooing in delight?