You Can’t Be Too Careful!
Published: Coming April 4, 2017
$13.99 – $18.00
By Roger Mello
Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
Brazilian writer and illustrator Roger Mello gained international recognition when he won the coveted Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014. According to the jury, “Roger Mello’s illustrations allow the child to be guided through stories by their imaginations. The stories demonstrate a broad international understanding. The illustrations are both innovative and inclusive, and incorporate images that promote tolerance and respect between individuals from different cultures and traditions.” In You Can’t Be Too Careful!, Mello explores an idea he had as a child: that one small action can have marvelous consequences. Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, You Can’t Be Too Careful! expresses serious questions about the dangers of greed and the importance of kindness.
Published: April 4, 2017
$18 hardcover – ISBN: 978-0-914671-64-0
$15 ebook – eISBN: 978-0-914671-65-7
- Published with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Brazil/Biblioteca Nacional
- A 2018 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book, awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) for an outstanding work originally published outside the United States and subsequently translated to English.
- Best Picture Books of 2017, Kirkus Reviews
- Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Notable Children’s Book, 2018
Roger Mello's sophisticated, circular tale takes the reader from one link in the quirky narrative chain to the next through a series of precisely illustrated vignettes. Each image, produced in a variety of techniques from color pencil wash to collage, is a highly stylized feast for the eye, while the storyline pursues a range of fantastical scenarios and finally winds its way back to the first motif of a white rose. Text and images invite the patient and imaginative young reader to follow this intriguing sequence of events backwards and forwards in multiple re-readings.
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.
Like the handle on a windup toy that moves clockwise until it stops and spins in reverse, the 2014 Hans Christian Anderson Award winner manipulates a chain of actions and consequences—and then imagines the momentum flowing backward with entirely different outcomes. Complex and provocative, this Brazilian import will intrigue readers who like puzzles and frustrate those who don’t.
Unapologetically colorful, almost Carnaval-like, and filled with all sorts of wonderful people, creatures, and places.
For the past 20 years, Mello has colored his way into the imaginations of children across this outsize country, turning tropical plants and beasts into mythical idylls, while reviving forgotten folklore.
Mello's striking use of color and intricate design captivates his viewers and leaves them thinking about his images long after viewing them. It is impossible to glance briefly at Mello's art; each viewing of his intricate and colorful works brings to the surface different viewing experiences, and he has a knack for drawing his readers/viewers into his images. Mello is passionate about storytelling, and he does not underestimate the developing understandings of children. He avoids heavy didactic or moralizing overtones, and instead encourages his readers to draw their own conclusion based on the images and narrative at hand.
Complex and dizzying, You Can’t Be Too Careful! features a vast set of characters whose actions and inactions are all tightly knit together. The book is a dramatic lesson in logic and consequence. A love letter gets lost because of a man’s ridiculous mustache; a man who’s on the verge of death lives—because his monkey ran away from the circus, because the world fell on the floor. See what I mean?
Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, You Can't Be Too Careful! expresses serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed.
A marvel of art, story, and imagination.
More than a dozen eccentric interconnected characters are introduced -- an escaped circus monkey, an irate goldsmith, a “fake doctor” with bagpiping dreams, and more. It’s like a floral equivalent to the butterfly effect, all leading back to White Rose, who suddenly reappears to steal the compass rose off a map.
You Can’t Be Too Careful! is a complex and provocative book which is different, unusual and an absolute delight to read. As well as the infectious humour the consequence craziness does allows the story to express some serious elements about the dangers of greed and the importance of kindness. This is definitely a ‘must-have’ book.
Roger Mello’s illustrations challenge and excite the imagination... it’s great to see some of his work available in English at last.
This is a book for puzzle-lovers... Complex and provocative, it’s just right for children who love a challenge.
"Originally published in Brazil in Portuguese, this circular tale playfully foreshadows its genre through endpapers adorned with groupings of lithe stick figures enclosed in circles. The story begins with a gardener guarding a white rose, not moving from his post because of a cold he caught while looking for his shoes, which were hidden by the cat, which was given to him by his brother. As the yarn of connections unspools, readers are treated to a series of affecting, expressionist illustrations, rendered in colored pencils and torn paper."
- Mark your calendars for the Center for Art and Translation’s celebration of Elsewhere Editions with Roger Mello and Daniel Hahn!
Listen to Roger talk with TeachingBooks.net about his mixed media technique and the importance of detail here.