Review Blog

Sep 27 2017

What's up top? by Marc Martin

cover image

Penguin Random House, 2017. ISBN 9780143783886
(Ages: 4-7) Questions, Rhyme, Imagination. Questions, questions, questions. There is one on every page. And none of them are answered. Even the endpapers are covered in question marks. What's Up Top? the front cover asks, the writing leading our eye up the ladder, its end invisible. A small green frog sits, apparently also pondering the question. The reader is given many possible answers, each more elaborate and creative than the last, but no definitive one. From 'Is it a hat?' to 'The string of a kite on a meteorite that's attached to a whale . . . while a sloth eating soup parachutes through a hoop for a group of iguanas in purple pyjamas?', the reader is taken on a journey of infinite possibility. We see the narrator at the end. He's a penguin. He can't tell us the answer: 'I don't climb up ladders . . . I'm no good with heights!' he says.
This will be great as a creative writing prompt. It could also be used when introducing and discussing the use of question marks. It is, however, just a fun read aloud rhyme that holds us in suspense then lets us enter the imaginative realm ourselves. What IS up top is kind of unimportant and probably boring. As the book says 'It's probably a bird . . . or maybe just sky?'. The truth is never going to be as interesting as what we can imagine.
Nicole Nelson

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