The story begins on the front endpapers with the questions “What’s going on?” and “Can someone please turn on the lights?” Black pages then fade to gray in the first pages—evidently the light has been turned on.
The book (who also happens to be the narrator) then thanks readers because, it says, “I’m afraid of the dark.” It then goes on to reveal that it’s scared of most things because it’s “spineless” and has “absolutely no sense of adventure.” The book/narrator admits that it doesn’t like stories (because stories can be “scary”). The following pages are filled with tales that the book is terrified of: the sound of a ghost story, in which the ghosts wail and clank their chains; the sight of a mystery’s “pitch-black pathways and slinky shadows” (though it wonders whodunit); the “FEEL” of a space adventure, with “rumbling rockets and woozy weightlessness” (but the stars are nice); the “SMELL” of a “whiffy wolverine or stinky skunk” in a nature story (maybe it could manage a bunny); or even the salty “TASTE” of a pirate story set upon the open seas. Leslie’s witty, fast-paced narrative and Brereton’s digital paintings work well together to create a self-referential narrative that introduces young readers to different literary genres, compositions cleverly including those story elements the book is not scared of, till by the end it seems to have grown a spine—maybe.
A playful, interactive story that will urge readers to be brave and turn the page. (Picture book. 3-6)