A child’s sense of wonder is rich and enthralling. Their daydreams and fanciful notions are full of hope and possibility. If I Was a Banana opens on a wet, ordinary day, with an adult and child out for a walk. They look through the window display of a fruit shop, and the young boy bursts forward to say, “If I was a banana I would be that one, all yellow and fat and full of banana.” Each subsequent page spread shares another thoughtful notion. “If I was a mountain…If I was a cloud…If I was an elephant…If I was a spoon…If I was a star…” The boy’s explanations are poetic, tender, and adorably funny. We get to know him a little bit more as the story unfolds, and we got to know more about each other. My two bigs couldn’t contain themselves.
Haz: “If I was a rocket, I’d fly up high, so high, even higher than the birds. I’d explore places that no one has ever been before.” Iz: “If I was a cat, I’d be a black cat with white patches on my eye and toes. I’d purr a lot so everyone would give me tuna for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, and I’d play tag with sparrows. I wouldn’t eat them.”
The ordinary becomes extraordinary through the eyes of a curious child. Tyler’s story and Rynhart’s illustrations work hand in hand to honour this truth. We see a moment of inspiration in the boy’s day, and then we’re taken into his mind, watch his train of thought evolve. Colours are soft. The vignetting on panelled illustrations focus our attention on the delightful details and enhance that dream concept. Although there’s a lot of dreaming and ifs, at no point do you get the feeling that the boy is unhappy or discontent. Quite the opposite. The heart-warming ending (especially since it’s the first time we see the boy’s face) conveys his self-confidence, an inner strength we hope all kids can possess.
If I Was a Banana, by Alexandra Tylee and Kieran Rynhart, is released this October from @gecko_press.