YOU CAN’T BE TOO CAREFUL! by Roger Mello and translated by Daniel Hahn, Elsewhere Editions, April 4, 2017, Hardcover, $18 (ages 5-8)
There’s nothing conventional about Roger Mello’s You Can’t Be Too Careful! From the stylized illustrations to the abstract narrative, this book is primed to take readers to far off worlds.
You Can’t Be Too Careful! opens in a garden where White Rose is being closely guarded by the gardener… just in case she might escape. As the story unfolds, we learn that gardener once caught a cold while walking barefoot. He was trying to find his shoes, but the cat had hidden them. The cat was a gift from the gardener’s younger brother whose wife, Dalva. Dalva had inherited the feline from her uncle who died of a broken heart.
That’s not the whole of You Can’t Be Too Careful! In fact, it’s just the beginning, with each small action triggering another, until they come full circle.
You Can’t Be Too Careful! is a study of the interconnectedness of life, and it does so in spectacular fashion. Roger Mello’s illustrations are a combination of complex colored-pencil drawings and torn paper, creating otherworldly spreads that immediately pull you in. Each illustration is perfectly paired with just enough text to prime your imagination.
At first glance, You Can’t Be Too Careful! appears too sophisticated for young readers. That’s why it works. Mello captures the untapped creativity of children, filtering only within the confines of the page. In this way Mello is celebrating the ingenuity and sophistication of even the youngest of readers.