34pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Penny was an imagineer – one of those clever people who can create in their head and then craft with their hands. All day long she would look at the everyday things around her and imagine how they could be used in a different way, like turning an umbrella upside-down to catch the rain and use its unique shape to funnel the water into a mug with a tap. She was always pulling things apart and then twisting and turning, screwing, taping tying until they were back together again -sometimes as they were but usually not.
Her imagination knew no limits as she sketched and planned but sadly the little apartment where she lived was not as large. However, Grandpa lived in a much larger house, one where he had lived for a very long time and the rooms were packed! When Penny first visited, she was in seventh heaven. The treasures to be explored… And then she discovered the shed!
Between them, Christopher Cheng and Lucia Masciullo have used their imaginations and their incredible skills with words and pictures to craft a thoroughly entertaining tale that is rich in all those elements that make the very best stories for children – I had to check there were only 34 pages because there was just so much packed in even though the text is just the right amount. The final foldout page is just adorable and young readers will spend hours just poring over its possibilities, lighting their own imaginations.
And because it is a publication from the National Library of Australia, there are vignettes of the tools that are mentioned in the story with brief explanations of what they are and how or why they were used (because even the grown-ups sharing the story won’t be old enough to remember let alone used them, unlike me who still has some of them) . It is such a clever way of taking youngsters back to Old Worlds so they can see how things have evolved over time and allow them to speculate on how their own imaginations might develop them further.
To use Chris’s own words, this is a “most wonderful, phantasmagorical, increibleacious, stupendorific” read.