The first review for Ben Clanton's Something Extraordinary (6/16/15) has found its way to my inbox, and it's a star!
"Bored with the familiar, this young daydreamer imagines how life could be different. For starters, he'd liked to fly or have his drawings—in this case, a robot—come to life. The ideas become more creative as he continues; he would like it if "the rain came in seven different colors. And flavors!" His longings are depicted in watercolor-and-pencil compositions, rendered in a muted palette of browns and blue-greens. Ultimately, his puff of air on a dandelion carries the wish "that something would happen. / Something real!" In a quietly ironic twist, the boy notices a springtime scene (brighter, by subtle degrees) just across the gutter. The birds that had earlier accompanied him, chirping in small, musical speech bubbles, are seen tending their family in a branch of a tree. Organic pink and yellow shapes form the flowers that grace the cheery paradise. The protagonist's earlier desire to talk to the animals is achieved as he bends toward a turtle and produces his own music bubble. In less capable hands, the idea that the real is extraordinary (and by extrapolation, that enjoyment requires close observation) could have come across as cliché and didactic. Instead, scenes full of gentle humor and inventive play convey respect and affection for the audience. The slowly dawning message will elicit excitement about spring, wishing, and the ability to decode a narrative." (Picture book. 4-7)