Written by Richard Jackson, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016
Hello there, says Chair.
The plot in a nutshell: A father and daughter explore a world of sensations through a book.
A girl and her father sit in a big cozy armchair and float into a book. The chair tips and they tumble out. The following pages show different animals and things, describing themselves in words that visually become the adjectives they are. For instance, when the kitten tells us it is furry, the word ‘furry’ is covered with orange soft-looking fur. The two o’s in ‘wooly’ on the sock page are made up of balls of yarn. In some cases, the word interacts with characters on the page, such as when the word ‘shaggy’ becomes the hillside that the llama is climbing down and the snail’s eyestalks form the ‘y’ in ‘gluey.’ The girl and her father take a break to enjoy some steamy cocoa and crumbly cake and as they float back out of the book, the book bids them farewell and thanks the reader for sharing this experience with them.
Although he has been a children’s book editor for many years, this is the first time that Richard Jackson has been an author himself. Most of the book is written in rhyme, although the meter changes up from time to time, which I really love, because it seems almost like it is advocating for all sorts of rhyming and non-rhyming books by offering different experiences in this one story. Overall, it warmed up the bibliophile parts of my heart, especially in the idea of a parent and child cuddling up to read together. Kevin Hawkes’ artwork is on center stage here and the book’s text is part of the art. We see the girl from the first pages changing costume to fit into the different environments the story puts her in, but the clothing never changes color, subtly letting us know that it’s all happening in her imagination. This one is especially recommended for those of us who love to lose ourselves in books.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you can experience so many wonderful and interesting things through reading and there’s something even more wonderful about sharing the experience with someone you love.