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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Illustrated Book Review: If I Were You

If I Were YouTitle: If I Were You
Author: Gary Turchin
Page Count: 44 pages
Publisher: Simon DeWitt & Friends
Genre: illustrated book

It's another amazing day and you get to be amazed moment-by-moment, page by silly page in the colorful and life-affirming new gift book, If I Were You.

The recipe for If I Were You is quite simple: combine quirky illustrations, a poet's deft language, a seeker's curiosity and a comedian's well-honed timing and you get one moving, inspirational and thoroughly goofy book.

Author-illustrator, comedian and amateur philosophy major Gary Turchin has crafted a book that tickles the funny bone, twangs the heartstrings, and touches the soul of any wounded mortal.

This is the feel-good gift book of the year, of any year. A picture book for grown-ups, but grown-ups who are going to have to break down and buy the kids their own copy once they've shared it with them.

In If I Were You, the day begins not with a whimper, but a Wow! So much to be amazed by, and amused by, as we careen through a series of If-I-Were-You observations about life, observations that are both impossible and important. It's a day like no other, and yet it's everyday when we choose to live in wonder.

It is in these observations that If I Were You shines. Its seemingly cornball wisdom somehow makes sense, even when, on the surface, it doesn't. That's because If I Were You is about what's below the surface, what's in our hearts, our hopes, our dreams our wishes, our aspirations.

If I Were You may be the first book to retort the age old, "Well, you know, someday, you ll have to get a real job..." with a, "Well, you know, someday you'll have to get a real dream..."

Game. Set. Match. Dream.

And of course, the If I Were You day ends in gratitude, with thank you in a multitude of languages, and then it's off to dreamland, and other days and other dreams and other golden opportunities for amazement.

Unpretentious, un-preachy, imperfect, improbable, and naively grand, If I Were You has less than 1,000 words, start to finish. Why say more?
What a fun book!  This is the kind of text that can life you up when you're not feeling all that great and give you things to think about in a positive way.  I wouldn't classify this as exclusively a children's book, since having illustrations isn't the only thing that makes a book for children.  Instead, I would describe this as inspiration and motivation for anyone who needs a pick me up, and who doesn't have days when they need one of those?

The illustrations are neon colorful and are collages that include drawings mixed with the author's original artwork.  They mirror the text perfectly.  The story is a sort of manifesto as opposed to a plot that tells a story.  This is the kind of book that you could pick up and read a page out of and then go on with your day with a fresh, uplifting thought in your mind.  The author has taken every joy and every adversity that he's experienced so far in life and distilled them into a brew that's joyful and fun and serious and important all at the same time.  According to the back flap and the author's webpage (which you can check out here) the author has been diagnosed with Parkinson's, so he definitely knows a thing or two about consciously making the decision to live joyfully.

The quote from the synopsis is definitely my favorite one of the entire book:
And if someone FULL of IMPORTANCE were to stop and say, "You know, eventually you'll have to get a real job."

I'd say, "well, you know, eventually you'll have to get a REAL DREAM."

Sometimes we've had our fill of constructive criticism and just need something that makes us feel re-energized. If I Were You fits the bill beautifully.

Overall Grade: A+

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