Milo Imagines The World
Publisher: Two Hoots
Milo and his big sister get on the New York subway to visit their mother, who is in prison. On the train, Milo’s sister looks at her phone but Milo – excited but also anxious about seeing his mum - watches the people around him and imagines their lives, sketching his ideas in his book. Is the man reading the crossword going home to an empty apartment with just his cat for company? Are the clean cut white boy and his dad going home to a castle in a horse-drawn carriage? What about the crew of teenage girls that get on the train and do a dance routine?
When Milo and his sister get to the prison, Milo is so happy to see his mum. Yet, he is very surprised to see the boy and his dad from the train also visiting someone. Maybe you can’t really tell anything about anyone just by looking at them? Milo reimagines all the stories he has created for the people he drew on the train, and realises all the different situations and lives those people might live.
A hugely affecting picture book about not judging people by appearances and a rare children’s book that tackles the experience of being a child with a parent in prison, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s beautiful story is both wise and accessible. Milo’s drawings help him understand the world in ways that just talking may not, echoing the value of art therapy for children in processing difficult experiences, as well as reminding us of the value of drawing as expression for everyone. In addition, this is a thoughtful and sensitive representation of what it’s like to visit a parent in prison, and is an important book to share with mid to upper end primary aged children to open up a conversation about what prison is and the role it plays in society and within many families.