CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 20. . . .January 29, 2010
The main character in Topsy-Turvy Town imagines that he lives in a place where amazing things happen: it rains broccoli, cars are made of chocolate, buildings walk with you, dogs play the tuba, and you can go fishing in the living room. The only problem is that no one in his family believes that Topsy-Turvy Town exists! His sister thinks it is “silly,” his aunt tells him he is “making that up!” and his father simply ignores him. The only person who believes in his imaginary world is his mother!
Luc Melanson, the author and illustrator, wants to teach young readers a lesson about the importance of imagination. Being able to look at the world in a unique way is very important. In a world where reality is too much with us, this is a critical message for young readers and their caregivers. Melanson has illustrated numerous books for children. Le Grand Voyage De Monsieur won the governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature - Illustration and was selected as an IBBY Canada choice book.
Through luminous illustrations, the narrator’s everyday environment is shown in soft blue, green, grey and brown tones. The young narrator appears in every illustration as he interacts with his environment. While broccoli rains from the sky, he is in the postbox under an umbrella! While his neighbour’s dog plays the tuba, he peeks through the front door – with cotton in his ears! The fact that the narrator is visible in every illustration emphasizes the fact that Topsy-Turvy Town is his creation. Even though he may be small, his imagination is vast and vivid!
The text of this picture book is also well suited for young readers. The vocabulary is simple and easy to understand. However, the title of this book, which includes the unusual words “Topsy-Turvy,” may need some explanation.
Topsy-Turvy Town is a wonderful vehicle for discussing the power of the imagination with young children. Most of the story in this picture book is told in the vibrant and unusual illustrations. They show that Topsy-Turvy Town exists only in the narrator’s head. Even though “nobody believes it’s there,” the message of this picture book is clear. It is a good thing to imagine and to dream, for, as Albert Einstein stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
Myra Junyk is the former Program Co-ordinator of Language Arts and Library Services at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Currently, she is working as a literacy advocate and author.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.