I Want to Be a Vase (Julio Torres)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Want to Be a Vase, written by Julio Torres and illustrated by Julian Glander, a hilariously irreverent and thought-provoking look at identity.

It’s a quiet day in the bathroom of the apartment when the plunger makes an unexpected announcement: “I want to be a vase.” Its bathroom compatriots react with various levels of surprise and disapproval, none more so than the vacuum cleaner. Yet the plunger is undeterred; it ventures through the living room and into the kitchen procuring some fresh-cut flowers and tape, and reinvents itself. Many of the kitchen’s objects are confused at first, but the pot readily accepts the plunger’s new identity; after all, the pot has always dreamed of being a trash can. Suddenly, objects all over the apartment are happily finding new uses and identities, much to the vacuum cleaner’s dismay! Will the objects be set straight – or were they right to chase their dreams all along?

Hysterical and insightful. Torres’s incredibly amusing conversational text (differing fonts and outline colors deftly signal each speaker) pairs beautifully with Glander’s spectacularly stylized 3D digital illustrations to tell a bizarre yet oddly universal story about self-actualization. While some of the objects’ chosen identities are played for laughs (“I want to be a pillow too!” cries a mirror, “A sharp, breakable, dangerous pillow!”), the arguments for rejecting an assigned identity that is uncomfortable or unfulfilling, as well as the final understanding that accepting those identities makes everyone happier in the long run, are very much drawn from real-life. Young readers, who have no problem seeing the possibilities of what objects can be beyond their intended uses, will easily grasp the concept, as well as the comedy of the sharp dialogue and colorful artwork. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ absolutely LOVED this one; she was screaming with laughter by the fourth page, and joyfully helped the book itself realize its own dream of exploring new opportunities. This is a strange book, but an utterly delightful one. Overall, a whip-smart and wonderfully silly read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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