João by a Thread

by Roger Mello (Author) Roger Mello (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An intricate and exquisite tale of how bedtime fears can be transformed into wondrous dreams and magical adventures, by Hans Christian Andersen award-winning Roger Mello.

As João tucks under a lovingly woven quilt, he asks himself: So it's just me now? He curls up, getting cozy in bed, and soon the world of his dreams unspools on the page. The blanket in his bed unravels into deep rivers, lakes, valleys, reservoirs, mountain ranges, fishing nets full of tadpoles and gaping holes, until what's left is just one long thread. When he feels alone and scared in the dark, João "sews words like patchwork" into a new blanket to cover himself up. He weaves the threads of his quilt until they form one long sentence, and soon, the nighttime is peppered with his own silvery, slippery words.

Roger Mello draws like a shapeshifter - to look at his illustrations is always to see something you missed before (a stingray, a crescent moon nestled into the palm of João's hand). His breathtaking line drawings, beaming in white thread against deep red, combined with poetic and bewildered language, make João by a Thread a book to take into bed at the edge of sleep, just before you start to dream.


Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Evocative in its execution, this Brazilian import invites readers to ponder the scenarios it casts (and those it doesn't). A moody, ingenious masterstroke.

Publishers Weekly

"How big is the blanket that's covering João?/ As big as the bed?/ Or as big as the nighttime?" Taking a patterned blanket as focal point, Mello narrates a child's nighttime experience in this entrancing, question-filled book, which gestures toward the way connection (to family, to nature) can be felt, even when one is "alone with myself." Natural imagery--wind, mountains, rivers--describe João's restless moments beneath the blanket, the fear that engulfs him and unravels the textile, and the lullaby (a "word-blanket" he sews) with which he soothes himself. Philosophical text unfolds against cherry-red pages starkly accented with black and white, while the coverlet's spidery weave fills almost every spread, its design shifting as João--presented as a long-limbed featureless form--ventures through the night until resting beneath a blanket of his own redesign in this dreamlike volume. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"We love the uniqueness, culture and free thinking this book offers. The detail in the pictures is so intriguing and we do recommend to really take the time to look at the illustrations and ask your child what they see in the tapestry. It will become an adventure just to hear what is seen." —Melanie Braga, Momma Braga

"A trippy and imaginative bedtime story that would certainly prompt discussion and reward re-readings . . . The beautiful drawings and the complexity of the text (are) intriguing . . . I would recommend this to families who have enjoyed books by Peter Sís." —Susan Harari, Youth Services Book Review

"Playing with proportions both in its illustrations and in its language, this picture book uses intricate line drawings in a stark red, black, and white palette to illustrate its dreamy tale of a boy drifting off to sleep . . . Musing, wondrous, and weird, it's a story that stands to charm young ones, yes, but to enchant adults, too." —Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews

"We can vividly see white line drawings ripple with intricate patterns, shapes, animals, & figures, all of them blooming around João & his blanket. There is a sense of charm & wonder. I love how each design inspires little ones to dream big & create their own masterpieces." —Stylish Modern Mother

Roger Mello
About the author / illustrator: Roger Mello has illustrated over 100 titles - 22 of which he also wrote - and his unique style and adroit sense of color continues to push the boundaries of children's book illustration. Rather than relying on written narrative to tell the story, Mello invites his young readers to fill the gaps with imagination. Mello has won numerous awards for writing and illustrating, including three of IBBY's Luis Jardim Awards, the Best Children's Book 2002 International Award, and the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award. In 2018, You Can't Be Too Careful! was named a Batchelder Honor Book by the American Library Association. Charcoal Boys was published by Elsewhere Editions in 2019 and was named a USBBY 2020 Outstanding International Book.

About the translator: Daniel Hahn is the author of a number of works of nonfiction, including The Tower Menagerie. He is one of the editors of The Ultimate Book Guide, a series of reading guides for children and teenagers. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007 and his translation of Agualusa's A General Theory of Oblivion was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 and in 2019, we published his translation of Agualusa's The Society of Reluctant Dreamers. He has translated the work of Philippe Claudel, María Dueñas, José Saramago, Eduardo Halfon, and others. He has collaborated with Roger Mello on two powerfully poetic picture books: You Can't Be Too Careful! and Charcoal Boys.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781953861344
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Elsewhere Editions
Publication date
October 20, 2022
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
JUV010000 - Juvenile Fiction | Bedtime & Dreams
Library of Congress categories
Bedtime
Blankets
Illustrated works

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