“I am the author, and that means I get to write all of the words. I am also the illustrator, so I get to make all of the pictures, too,” lectures a sadly deluded, bespectacled white man.
As soon as he draws Percy the Perfectly Polite Panda, his control crumbles. “I prefer to be called Spike,” informs the panda, who goes on to wreak havoc. Pett poses his characters on blank, white space, the author/illustrator looking out at readers and Spike mostly turned back to as he uses crayons to “add some color to these boring white pages.” Spike draws some new characters, and together they begin some serious engineering. They build in a flap. “I don’t want any flaps in my book!” complains the author/illustrator. Then they make a pull-tab, which, hilariously, animates the author/illustrator jumping up and down as he screams, “I DON’T WANT PULL TABS!” An unwanted pop-up is even funnier. Finally the author/illustrator listens when Spike explains that “it’s not just your book. It’s ours too,” and, crucially, “it’s their book, too,” gesturing out at readers. Spike’s invitation to readers to “help us” is clearly limited to the minibook included at the end, however, never really getting to the creative synergy among creator, book, and readers that is at the heart of reading.
Still, even on a very crowded metafictive shelf, this effort is good fun. (Novelty picture book. 3-7)