When I Grow Up, by Julie Chen, tells the story of a young boy asking futuristic questions of his mother as they are going about their day.
Throughout the story, the little boy asks his mother if he can be certain roles or character traits when he grows up. He asks her about being a teacher, an astronaut, and about so many other possibilities.
At the end of the book, the little boy is met with his mother's response. Naturally, her response is gentle, loving, and encouraging. Through her mother's words, she reminds her young son that he can be anything he wishes to be and she encourages him to continue on with his dreaming again tomorrow.
In my opinion, I did not love this story. Although the story is sweet, and it does represent that bond between a parent and child, it was just not done well in my opinion. There are so many books that are almost identical to this story that are written better.
The biggest issue that I had with this story was actually the wording. I felt that every page and every dream was set up to rhyme and flow, but it was so, so choppy. There was never a rhyme or a rhythm reached on the pages, and that drove me crazy.
Clearly, Julie Chen's original job is not a children's author, and I think that showed up loudly in the language just not flowing well from page-to-page. To me, when this happens, it's almost like nails on a chalkboard syndrome. I just cringe, and I definitely cringed often in this story.
The greatest strength of this story is Diane Goode's illustrations. They are just angelic and pure. You can definitely see why she is a Caldecott Honor artist. She just has a talent that was made to be a children's book illustrator! I just wish I loved the actual story more.