“Once upon a time, there was a blank page,” begins this picture book, with black type set on a white double-page spread.
On the very next double-page spread, five vaguely animallike characters in solid colors appear. Although no one knows “how they got there,” or even why, four of the five characters assume that the otherwise empty page means that they are in a book and that they need to wait for a story to begin. When the fifth character, a pink rabbit with a blue backpack, suggests they play, the others shush the rabbit, saying, “Can’t you see we’re busy?” and “There isn’t time to play.” While these four characters wait politely for the story to arrive on the recto, the pink rabbit begins to draw on the verso. Comedy ensues: The pink rabbit draws a dinosaur, a treehouse, and penguins in a hot air balloon—among other things—on the verso, while the four other characters (facing away from the verso) politely wait for the story to start. (“In the old days stories used to arrive on time,” one sighs.) Coppo’s simple storyline is reminiscent of (a slightly less absurd) Waiting for Godot; the pink rabbit’s innovative, crayon-based illustrations reinforce the importance of creating your own stories rather than waiting for them to happen.
A playful, self-aware picture book that has a lot of read-aloud potential. (Picture book. 4-7)