My enormous thanks to Jon Hales for sending me a copy of his latest children’s book, When I Grow Up in return for an honest review. It’s not quite a year since I read and reviewed another of Jon’s children’s books Mathimals in a post you can read here.
When I Grow Up was published on 17th December 2018 and is available for purchase here.
When I Grow Up
“What if there was something more, not found within a book?
I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and took a look…”
Mr Dove’s class is trying to decide what to be when they grow up but Annie has some ideas of her own. Alien Hunter? Master Ice Cream Taster? President of the Universe? With a little imagination, anything is possible…
Beautifully illustrated, expertly rhymed, with a powerful message about the importance of imagination and dreaming big dreams, this picture book will delight again and again. Perfect for ages 4-8.
My Review of When I Grow Up
Annie’s teacher sets the class a writing project but Annie isn’t sure what to write.
I loved everything about When I Grow Up from the dedications to the written content and the smashing illustrations – not least because these exemplify a range of ethnicities which I think is important in a children’s book so that children learn tolerance and friendship. Indeed, the illustrations were the perfect balance to the written text because it’s clear the class is not just Caucasian.
The ethos behind When I Grow Up is exactly what parents and teachers need when sharing a book with their children. Annie’s dreams of what she would like to be when she grows up are exciting, flexible and quite feminist. She isn’t constrained by her gender or ethnicity so that the message is that we can all have aspirations, but that we don’t have to stay as one thing in our lives. Annie thinks she could be everything from a traveller in space catching aliens to a deep sea diver, which conveys the idea that there is a big world out there for children to explore. I really liked the concept that being a teacher is only one element of Mr Dove’s life too, as I’m sure when I was teaching students somehow thought that I’d hang up in a school cupboard until the next time I taught them. I feel it’s important that figures of authority are also seen as human.
The language in When I Grow Up is deftly handled. The book would lend itself well to being read by adults to younger children but it is also accessible through its excellent rhyme scheme to older, more independent, readers with sufficient challenge to extend vocabulary and engage them. I thought it was a super idea to include a space where children can write their own rhyme about what they would like to be when they grow up after having seen Annie’s version. Modelling is one of the effective ways of helping children learn.
The style of When I Grow Up reminded me of Roald Dhal and Mr Dove’s language was occasionally reminiscent of Lewis Carroll so that I felt this book deserves its place amongst the very best children’s fiction. It made me smile and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Great stuff.
About Jon Hales
Jon Hales is a British author, English literature graduate and former English teacher who learned first-hand the power of a great picture book while teaching in Taiwan, reading stories to his younger students. The capacity for a well crafted turn of phrase, captivating character or hilarious illustration to capture the imagination of its audience was fascinating to him. Jon dreamed of crafting stories that would bring joy to both children and adults, stories that could be read again and again without losing their charm. Jon lives in London with his wife Annie.