Written by Adam Lehrhaupt, Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015
The plot in a nutshell: Book characters don’t want the book to close.
A group of animals, mostly monkeys, are waiting in the dark on the first few pages of the book, happy that a reader has opened it up again. They tell us that someone slammed it shut with all of them inside and that some of them got hurt in the process. They ask us to please not close the book again and show us that they’re still fixing damage done to some of the pages. They offer to write a better story and even offer us the last half of their banana. But we keep turning pages toward the end and eventually, we close the book.
This book is a sequel to author Adam Lehrhaupt’s first book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book and as you can tell from the title alone, it’s a very different story. In that book, the same group of monkeys tried to stop someone from reading their story and in this one, they are trying to encourage them to do just the opposite. I am normally a fan of books that cleverly break the fourth wall to talk to the reader, but this one came up a little short for me. It may have been the fact that the characters are basically telling us that we’re causing them harm by continuing to read the book and it’s missing the comic appeal to take the edge off that.
Matthew Forsythe’s digital illustrations are colorfully set against fully black pages of darkness and I love the contrast. There are several different species of primates depicted here, including mandrills, lemurs and orangutans and they are cute and playful. I like the way that these animals interact with each other, the reader and the book itself in places. But I’ve read picture books that did this more creatively and made it more cooperative instead of antagonistic.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that story characters can seem very real whenever we are really engrossed in a book.