João by a Thread
by Roger Mello
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Pub Date 25 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 18 Oct 2022
Archipelago, Elsewhere Editions
As João tucks under a lovingly woven quilt, he asks himself: So it’s just me now? He curls up, getting cozy in bed, and soon the world of his dreams unspools on the page. The blanket in his bed unravels into deep rivers, lakes, valleys, reservoirs, mountain ranges, fishing nets full of tadpoles and gaping holes, until what’s left is just one long thread. When he feels alone and scared in the dark, João “sews words like patchwork” into a new blanket to cover himself up. He weaves the threads of his quilt until they form one long sentence, and soon, the nighttime is peppered with his own silvery, slippery words. Roger Mello draws like a shapeshifter – to look at his illustrations is always to see something you missed before (a stingray, a crescent moon nestled into the palm of João’s hand). His breathtaking line drawings, beaming in white thread against deep red, combined with poetic and bewildered language, make João by a Thread a book to take into bed at the edge of sleep, just before you start to dream.
"Taking a patterned blanket as focal point, Mello narrates a child’s nighttime experience in this entrancing, question-filled book, which gestures toward the way connection (to family, to nature) can be felt, even when one is 'alone with myself.'"
"In bed, João, an abstract figure who appears entirely black or white on various pages, tugs at his homemade blanket, submerged in his thoughts. Evocative in its execution, this Brazilian import invites readers to ponder the scenarios it casts (and those it doesn’t). A moody, ingenious masterstroke."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A trippy and imaginative bedtime story that would certainly prompt discussion and reward re-readings . . . The beautiful drawings and the complexity of the text (are) intriguing . . . I would recommend this to families who have enjoyed books by Peter Sís."
--Susan Harari, Youth Services Book Review
Average rating from 9 members
I was immediately captivated and drawn in by this stunning cover, and the little ones will be, too. Sometimes children’s books can lack originality, but this one is entirely original and unique. A beautifully executed tale of how bedtime fears can be turned into magical adventures and fantastic dreams, this will have your little ones looking forward to bedtime and the wonderful realm of dreams, as opposed to being scared of the monsters under the bed or in the closet. The only risk with this one, because it is a little more abstract than the average children’s book, is that it can be a bit overwhelming and easy to lose interest, but the way the story is weaved there is so much room for discussion and weaving in your own personal magic, that it’s certainly worth a shot.
Thank you so much Netgalley for the ARC!❤️
Considering the book is labelled as Children's Fiction, I expected it to be a bit childish but the narration has surprising depth. It's eloquently written and I love the creativity behind the plot. It's perfect for kids aged 8-9 years. Might be hard for someone younger to interpret the meaning. Recommended!
Really unique and beautiful. Reads almost like poetry, or like narration of a dream (or a nightmare - sensitive or younger readers might find some elements a little surreal - parents be aware). The art is gorgeous and the story complex/abstract enough for multiple readings to be rewarding. Definitely recommended if you're looking for a children's book that goes beyond a linear plot and will open up a discussion.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this book in exchange for my review.
This is an immersive and beautifully illustration picture book which speaks to bedtime fears, imagination, and the power of the mind to overcome challenges. The art is gorgeous and is definitely the highlight of this work. After reading this galley, I happily ordered the title for our juvenile collection. I imagine it will appeal to families who find highly stylized picture book art engaging.
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