Written and Illustrated by Herve Tullet
Candlewick Press, 2013
Hey! Someone’s watching us!
The plot in a nutshell: Characters in a book are not ready to be read
A princess and a pig are throwing a ball back and forth when they notice that someone is reading their book. They call in some other characters and speak directly to the reader, pointing out that their story isn’t ready yet. They bring in a picture of an ocean at sunset to improve the reader’s view, but realize that there’s still nothing going on. They invite the bad guy into the story, but advise him not to be too scary. The author is invited in to help and he’s surprised to see that the unfinished story is already being read. He throws together a quick plot and then asks the reader to please advise other readers not to choose this book. The characters bid farewell to the reader and go back to their game of catch.
Author/illustrator Herve Tullet is a master of crashing through the fourth wall and engaging the reader as an integral part of the story right from the outset. His books are dynamic and interactive and he takes that even further with this book, in which he becomes an important character himself, directly addressing the reader and making an impact on the plot (or lack thereof). This book is a ton of fun to read and I wish it had been around when my kids were young, because I know it would have been a family favorite.
The mixed media artwork looks so much like a child’s actual drawing that when I looked inside the cover for the first time, I thought the book had been drawn in. There are smudges and notes in the margins that all work to lend reality to the idea that this book is a work in progress. The characters are clearly not well-defined, but that’s an important element of the story, which makes their depictions, in thick marker lines or pencil sketches, absolutely perfect. When Mr. Tullet joins the story, he’s represented by a photograph of his very expressive face, with the rest of his body drawn around it. This is a wonderful book that will inspire the imaginations of all the little future authors and illustrators out there.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that a reader becomes a part of every story they read.