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A new picture about imagination and creativity from the award-winning author of Lots and A River.

What's at the top of the ladder? Is it a hat? Is it a cat? Is it a snail on a whale?
Simple, playful and absurdist, this new picture book by Marc Martin is about imagination and creativity. Reminiscent of Press Here by Herve Tullet, Dr Seuss and I Want my Hat Back by Jon Glasson.


Questions, questions, questions. There is one on every page. And none of them are answered. Even the endpapers are covered in question marks. What's Up Top? the front cover asks, the writing leading our eye up the ladder, its end invisible. A small green frog sits, apparently also pondering the question. The reader is given many possible answers, each more elaborate and creative than the last, but no definitive one. From 'Is it a hat?' to 'The string of a kite on a meteorite that's attached to a whale . . . while a sloth eating soup parachutes through a hoop for a group of iguanas in purple pyjamas?', the reader is taken on a journey of infinite possibility. We see the narrator at the end. He's a penguin. He can't tell us the answer: 'I don't climb up ladders . . . I'm no good with heights!' he says. This will be great as a creative writing prompt. It could also be used when introducing and discussing the use of question marks. It is, however, just a fun read aloud rhyme that holds us in suspense then lets us enter the imaginative realm ourselves. What IS up top is kind of unimportant and probably boring. As the book says 'It's probably a bird . . . or maybe just sky?'. The truth is never going to be as interesting as what we can imagine.

Nicole Nelson, Read Plus

Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    August 28, 2017


    40 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • CBCA Book of the Year Awards
    Notable Book
    Early Childhood
  • CBCA Book of the Year Awards
    Notable Book
    Picture Book