In an appeal to reluctant readers, Meng’s cumulative text will provoke laughter as read-aloud fare.
Delay tactics open the story: A boy refuses to read his book, saying, “I have to floss my teeth and wash behind my ears and feed my fish.” His real reason? “Reading is hard and I don’t read fast and sometimes there are words I don’t know.” Eleven spreads detailing increasingly silly and extreme scenarios demonstrate his resolve through cumulative text displaying an absurdity reminiscent of Michael Ian Black’s Purple Kangaroo (illustrated by Peter Brown, 2010): “I will not read this book even if you hang me upside down / by one toe / over a cliff / while tickling my feet in a rainstorm…” The boy ultimately says he will read the book if he is dropped from his imagined, precarious position hanging from the cliff—“But only if you catch me.” The last page depicts mother, boy and book together, as Ang’s illustration cleverly incorporates elements from the preceding spreads.
Although an engaging picture book with accomplished digital illustrations embodying a style akin to Dan Yaccarino’s art, it’s a shame the text lacks the control that would make it accessible to actual struggling readers. (Picture book. 3-7)