#996 – It All Started When . . . by JQ Sirls and You

iasw_cover It All Started When . . .
Written and Illustrated by JQ Sirls and You
Fantoria 1/01/2016
40 pages    Ages 6 +

“When children use their imagination, it’s because the Imagi are personally shaping the world around them. Born from a magical dreamworld [sic] called Fantoria, each Imagi has a sole purpose: to provide wonder and make-believe to children of all ages.

“Unfortunately, many children grow up too fast and stop believing in wonder. When this happens, the Imagi return to Fantoria and wait patiently for new children to be born.

“That’s where this book comes in.

“A departure from the average picture book, It All Started When . . . by JQ Sirls turns children into authors and illustrators themselves. With JQ’s help, children will discover their own Imagi and record their own greatest adventures for the world to read! ” [INSIDE JACKET]

In the world of Fantoria, in the land of Imagi Nation, live a creative creature called the Imagi. Imagi work in groups of . . . together, the Imagi “become the child’s personal imagination,” helping them “pretend and dream of new things.” The Imagi are an invisible force, becoming visible only to the child, and only if the child needs a friend—an imaginary friend or friends.
sample3The world of Fantoria interestingly looks like a hurricane dartboard, with Moodi Kingdom marked in red at the very center of this maelstrom. There are many interesting places on Fantoria. Starting nearest Moodi Kingdom is an imaginative breakfast: The River of Juice runs into the Sugar Mountains, which butt against the Frosted Forest. (They make me think of cereal.)

As you wind your way around Fantoria, traveling the “River of Nonsense,” a long journey awaits you, but before long, you will run into other areas, such as “The Bearded Frog,” “Unicorn Flatlands,” and at the very end of this swirling world the “Desert of Fools.” Several islands surround the mainland of Fantoria with the worst being “The Terrible, Kind of Evil, But Not so Evil . . . Okay . . . Maybe a Little Evil Island” in the shape of an elongated skull. Ouch. Stories need conflict.
sample2After eight spreads building his world, the author asks, “Who Are Your Imagi?” I get what the author wants. He wants kids to find their imaginations, and finish his book to their own liking—an original. Sirls wants kids to go on adventures of their own making, with his prompts as their lead. I get it, I don’t like it. Will parents be willing to pluck down $16 for a prompted sketchbook, when they can get similar books for far less, not to mention a sketchbook with more pages and a box of crayons for less?

I love the well-done, creative illustrations and I think Sirls has storytelling talent, which is why I wonder why It All Started When . . . is not a real story, using his Imagi interacting with their child. I think I would have adored a story about his Imagi.

In any case, grab your pens, pencils, crayons, and anything else you use when creating a story. The seven spreads—with identical prompts—are waiting for you to finish this book. Assuming you have complied, the penultimate spread declares “THE END.” Finally, the author thanks you for visiting Fantoria and reminds you to return once more.
page-15-16An interesting concept, with enough confusion it requires a completed sample prompted spread to explain. It All Started When . . . desires to inspire children, an admirable choice. Add the author’s enthusiasm, which spills over each and every spread, and It All Started When . . . becomes promising—in paperback with more blank pages and changing prompts, directed toward one adventure/story children can then make original.

IT ALL STARTED WHEN . . . Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by JQ Sirls. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Fantoria, Glendale, CA. (author, JQ Sirls owns Fantoria).


Add It All Started When . . . to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.**

**After writing the review, posting, and then (attempting) linking, I found the book was no longer online. Email to author still unanswered. Cautionary tale to reviewers, even when you pre-vet a self-published book, double-check it is available for readers, and email the author/contributor things can go wrong if the author is unprofessional.

Reprinted with permission from IT ALL STARTED WHEN . . . © 2016 by JQ Sirls, Fantoria, Illustrations © 2016 by JQ Sirls.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

It All Started When . . . 
Written and Illustrated by JQ Sirls and You
Fantoria 1/01/2016


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