Milo Imagines the World

Milo Imagines the World cover
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena. Illustrated by Christian Robinson

By Matt de la Peňa
Putnam, 2021
40 pages

Ages 5-9

Taking the subway to a destination unknown to the reader, Milo feels like “a shook-up soda.” To distract himself from his nerves, he sketches the people near him—a whiskered man; a woman in a wedding dress; a white boy with clean, white sneakers; a group of break dancers—imagining what their lives might be like. He draws the man at home, eating alone. The bride marries a man, and they float away in a hot air balloon. The boy takes a horse-drawn carriage to his castle, where a gourmet chef offers him “crust-free sandwich squares.” The breakers are followed and glared at in an electronics store. Meeting the white boy’s eyes, Milo wonders what people imagine when they see his own face. Back on street level, he and his sister join a long line, and he’s surprised to see the white boy in line, too. Thinking that “maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face,” he imagines alternate stories for the people in his sketchbook: a family for the single man, a bride for the woman in a wedding dress. Finally, he and his sister are united with their incarcerated mom, and Milo gives her a picture he’s drawn of the three of them, eating ice cream on a front stoop. Cut-paper and collage illustrations alternate with two-page spreads of colorful, Crayon-drawn stories in Milo’s sketchbook in this thought-provoking story about a contemplative, imaginative Black boy. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center