If Only... cover

By Mies van Hout

If Only…

Bestselling author-illustrator Mies van Hout employs vivid creatures in a jewel-tone natural setting to explore the longing we all feel at times to be like somebody else.

What child has not daydreamed about having wings like a butterfly? But secretly, the flashy butterfly yearns for a stick insect’s privacy. And the stick insect wants to swim like a whirligig beetle.

One after the other, the denizens of bestselling author-illustrator Mies van Hout‘s vibrant garden landscape wish to be like somebody else. From the glowing firefly to the capable spider to the adorable ladybugs, each one brings something to be admired. And when the dragonfly wishes to be like a child who can run, play, laugh, and build, a world of possibilities opens up.

A gentle but effective story for social emotional learning, If Only… allows children to reach their own conclusions and acknowledge that while it’s common to compare ourselves to others, it’s best to remember and celebrate what we ourselves can do.

Available In


Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-196-0
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $17.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 8.67 x 10.50 inches / 22.0218 x 26.67cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: May 18, 2021

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 34

Paperback / softback

Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-276-9
List Price: $14.95 CAD / $12.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 8.67 x 10.50 inches / 22.0218 x 26.67cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: April 4, 2023

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 80

About this book


Praise for If Only…

2021 Winnipeg Free Press “COVID Chaos Captured in Inspiring Stories” selection

★ STARRED REVIEW “Spread after spread of exuberantly busy, beautiful life… A visual delight, this picture book offers openings for conversation about wishes, predictions, and one’s own enviable strengths.”—School Library Journal Starred Review

★ STARRED REVIEW “The imaginative narrative guides viewers through a series of richly colorful, dynamic collages, each showcasing a creature and its particularly enviable ability, characteristic, or situation….Originally published in the Netherlands, this radiant picture book has international appeal.”Booklist Starred Review

“This gentle celebration of differences also promotes an appreciation of others’ strengths and quietly emphasizes relationships within the animal kingdom. A colorful introduction to the natural sciences featuring warm and inviting illustrations.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This luminous picture book…brilliantly explores the personal – and universal – conundrum of wanting what you don’t have and yearning to be someone else…If Only … will spark reflection and an appreciation of differences.” —CM Reviews

“Fans of bugs will delight in the many types featured in the book, and the vivid, full page illustrations bring them to life… A cute and thought-provoking read… about being content with who you are. Recommend for toddlers through elementary school aged readers.” —YA Books Central

“Gorgeously illustrated with colorful collages in the tradition of Eric Carle…, If Only is a sweet book with an important moral at its core: The grass isn’t actually greener on the other side of the gate.”—Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf

“[A] spirited look at nature in all its glory… It celebrates the differences that make each one special, and helps young readers appreciate strengths in others.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“[A] colourful picture book for the youngest readers… In addition to the story there is information about each creature as well as instructions for making your own colourful art.”—The International Educator

“Mies van Hout’s artwork is, as ever, a pure delight: so gorgeously bright, full of eye-catching natural-world collages…while the straightforward and limited yet melodic text will beckon readers to visit the story again and again.”—Fab Book Reviews

“With gorgeously bold illustrations and creative text, Mies van Hout’s IF ONLY… is a wonderful thought experiment and journey for young readers….This gentle story kindly explores the idea of being happy with oneself and celebrating the unique and wonderful things we have that others might wish they had too!”—The Children’s Book Review

“The vivid colors and the use of collage as well as the personality given to each small creature invite the reader to turn the page to see what comes next.”—Green Teacher

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Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

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