Today Elsewhere Editions publishes the dreamy João by a Thread, written and illustrated by Roger Mello and translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. João is on the brink of sleep, tucked under an enormous quilt. Soon, the world of his dreams unspools on the page. When João startles awake, all that remains is a single thread. He must refashion his blanket, and his dreams, with his own words and questions.
In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls the book “a moody, ingenious masterstroke.”
“Set against lakes of striking deep red and black, the threads of the blanket weave and stretch into different shapes and symbols, echoing Mello’s whimsical text (translated from the Portuguese by Hahn) in all its compelling allure. At the book’s core, João’s bedtime reveries wed a simple premise with magnificent possibilities. Over several pages, readers consider João’s blanket as it flutters as if in the wind, trembles under the fidgety feet of its drowsy owner, and strains against ‘a fish that’s bigger than us.’ A passing reference to a father who ‘goes out fishing’ hints at a source of João’s ruminations. Soon, João wakes with a question: ‘Who unraveled my blanket?’ To return to his dreams, João threads together words strewn across the floor into a ‘word-blanket’ more fanciful than ever. Evocative in its execution, this Brazilian import invites readers to ponder the scenarios it casts (and those it doesn’t).”
João by a Thread is now available on our website alongside Roger Mello’s Charcoal Boys and You Can’t Be Too Careful!, both translated for Elsewhere Editions by Daniel Hahn, and Cao Wenxuan’s Feather, which is illustrated by Roger Mello.