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Leonard Eckhaus
Dare to Imagine
Dare to Imagine is a cornucopia of wonderful children’s poems, songs and fables. Each of the poems is also a fun lyric to a song that the children can sing along with. Follow the kitten Patches as she makes a new friend and learns how important it is to heed her mother’s advice; read the fairytale of Sirius, the brightest star in our galaxy and how she taught all the other stars to shine brightly; go on a great adventure with Darby as he rides trolley cars and marches in a parade; and go along on an eight year old’s journey to an ancient castle where he meets the king and the queen.
In this collection of poems and fables from Eckhaus, a kid wonders about his “clumsy curse,” a kitten named Patches learns a lesson about listening to her mom, and kids are encouraged to be silly and use their imagination. Dare to Imagine contains four poems and four fables, each ending with reflective questions for the child to consider after reading the story. Hummel’s expressive and whimsical digital illustrations compliment the tone of the book, especially during the poem section. Young readers looking for entertaining poems and tales they haven’t heard will enjoy this playful approach to storytelling.

The tone varies. After four poems of varying degrees of fun, including one named “Let’s Be Silly” and an charming ode to clumsiness that rhymes “tush” with “briar bush,” the fable section of the book feels surprisingly serious, with the stories concerned with making the characters—and potentially young readers—fearful of something, be it danger lurking on the other side of the fence, a strange part of town, or a vengeful bird. The tonal shift is small but feels abrupt, as one fable builds to “And that is how, in fact, CURIOSITY–KILLED–THE–CAT!” (A cheery reminder that cats have nine lives immediately follows.) Adults reading this with particularly sensitive children should be prepared. The other fable involves a mix of fantasy and science, exposing them to scientific concepts and imbuing the stars with both wonder and engaging fact.

For those unafraid, or more interested in the plenty of animals and happy kids that grace the pages, Dare to Imagine gives readers ample opportunity to use their imagination and be inspired to come up with their own poems and stories. Those looking for further immersion can also find each poem as a song on the author’s website. Whether a fiend for rhymes or someone brand new to fantastic tales of whimsy, this varied collection has something to offer for everyone.

Takeaway: Playful poems and imaginative fables will engage young readers.

Great for fans of: Arnold Lobel’s Fables; Jack Prelutsky’s It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A