Cover image for What if...
What if...
What if...
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publisher Info:
New York : Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., [2018]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
"This girl is determined to express herself! If she can't draw her dreams, she'll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can't do that, she'll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she'll sing, dance, and dream."-- Amzon.
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Call Number
Material Type
E BERGER, S. New or Popular Picture Book

On Order



Creativity, the power of imagination, and the importance of self-expression are celebrated in this inspiring picture book written and illustrated by real-life best friends.

This girl is determined to express herself! If she can't draw her dreams, she'll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can't do that, she'll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she'll sing, dance, and dream...

Stunning mixed media illustrations, lyrical text, and a breathtaking gatefold conjure powerful magic in this heartfelt affirmation of art, imagination, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Author Notes

Samantha Berger has written numerous picture books including Crankenstein, A Crankenstein Valentine , Witch Spa , Snoozefest , and Martha Doesn't Say Sorry , which won a Parent's Choice Award Honor. When she isn't writing, she's doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs. Samantha splits her time between New York City and California, and she invites you to visit her online at

Mike Curato is the author and illustrator of the beloved polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot , who appears in his books Little Elliot, Big City; Little Elliot, Big Family ; Little Elliot, Big Fun ; and Little Elliot, Fall Friends. He is also the illustrator of Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle. Mike lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and he invites you to visit him online at

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-In a first-person narrative, a young African American girl declares that nothing can keep her from creating. ("What if that pencil one day disappeared? I'd fold up the paper till stories appeared.") As she continues to imagine her the disappearance of her supplies, she invents new ways to create, by chiseling wood, drawing in the dirt, and using leaves, snow, and sand as her media. As more and more resources are withdrawn, the child makes shadows, tells stories, and dances. Until "If I had nothing, but still had my mind; there would always be stories to seek and to find." The story's origins are events from the author's own life. Berger shares in the notes that she wondered how she would be able to create when she was forced out of her home by a flood. She improvised, and in doing so realized that those who are "compelled to create.will always find a way." Curato was inspired by Berger, and reflects that in digital collages of household and found objects offset with charming pen-and-ink drawings of the young protagonist. The story is sandwiched between two exterior depictions of the narrator's apartment building. At the start of the book, she can be seen through a window, working at her desk. At the end of the book, the windows illuminate all the creators nearby; a man playing violin, a woman decorating a cake, and singers, dancers, painters, and needle workers. -VERDICT This inspirational read-aloud provides ample opportunity for discussion and creation from beginning to end. A necessary addition for most collections.-Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

"With a pencil and paper, I write and draw art/ to create many stories that come from my heart." But what if the young narrator of this story didn't have a pencil? In ways that may remind readers of the lullaby "Hush Little Baby," this brown-skinned, purple-haired girl is always thinking about her next move. No pencil? She'd make origami. No paper? She'd "chisel the table and then carve the chair" or create a wall-size sun by strategically peeling away paint. Ultimately, it's her imagination-celebrated with a gatefold close-up of the girl deep in thought-and unfaltering determination to create that matter. "If I had nothing, but still had my mind," writes Berger (Monster's New Undies). "There'd always be stories to seek and find." Curato's collaged and found-object illustrations meet the creative challenges the text all but demands with moments of giddy inventiveness: a dragon created from fall leaves, a solar system rendered in dirt and marbles, and a snow scene made of marshmallows and sugar. Ages 4-8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

As a young artist sits down to consider her work, she wonders what would happen if her pencil disappeared? While imagining paper flowers, cranes, and unicorns, she knows she'd take the paper she's drawing on and fold it into art. And if there was no paper? She'd chisel the table she's writing on and chair she sits upon. Thus begins a mixed-media exploration of what it means to be an artist. The nameless protagonist, a stand-in for any youngster driven by creative tides, daydreams in explosive, bright colorscapes. Curato's collages, featuring ink, pencil, acrylics, and more, make beautiful backdrops that pop, contrast, and fill each spread with life. Even wood shavings shine in burnished, textured glory. What's more, Berger's inspiring message, drawn from her own experience of losing the tools to make her art during a natural disaster, uplifts and demonstrates the unstoppable spirit of creativity. As the final illustration showcases the variety of expressions (dance, digital art, scientific discovery), many young artists will come away connected and affirmed.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2018 Booklist