Named one of The New York Times best children’s books of 2020, There Must Be More Than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake provides a welcome antidote to anxiety for our youngest readers, particularly during these Covid dominated days. Fans of Yoshitake’s marvellously offbeat books will know his gift for unpicking knotty issues in a humorously philosophical way, and in this sweet new picture book we meet a young girl beset by fears of a disastrous and doom-laden future.
We begin with this small, unnamed and disgruntled girl on a rainy day.
‘Dad said it would be sunny today, but…you can’t always trust grown-ups.’
One thing a girl can always trust however is her sibling’s talent for being a wet blanket. Our heroine’s already unpromising day is thrown into gloom when her older brother shares some adult predictions he’s heard, chiefly that by the time they grow up ‘…things are going to be terrible.’ Over-population will mean there won’t be enough food to go round, there will be war, plagues, possibly even alien invasion.
Yoshitake’s expressive illustrations show the little girl plodding up to her grandmother’s bedroom to share these terrible prophecies, eyes downcast and body hunched beneath the burden of her news.
Thankfully, age and experience has conferred wisdom on Grandma (it can so easily go the other way!) and they enjoy a frank and funny conversation on the nature of perspective and mindset.
‘Grown-ups act like they can predict the future…but they’re not always right.’
In Grandma’s lesson on lateral thinking, we learn that there are many possible futures, none of them written in stone. It’s up to her newly-empowered granddaughter to spread the word, a task she imbues with joyful zest and imagination.
This warm and whimsical read shows young readers that they are capable of controlling how they think about the future. Timely and reassuring.
There Must Be More Than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake is published by Chronicle Books, 32 pages.