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by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-028805-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

A celebration of book-qua-book from Burleigh (Lookin’ for Bird in the Big City, p. 582, etc.). A cheery little boy in a pompadour walks himself, an assortment of animal friends, and the reader through the book in hand, explicitly developing the metaphor of physical book as mental journey: “The way this page swings open, / then closes—like a door! / I’m heading into the next room now— / because I want some more!” Each double-page spread deconstructs the notion of page, allowing a trompe-l’oeil fold to reveal what comes before or after, or permitting characters to break through the plane entirely. (In one combination, the reader sees the head of a crocodile poking through a hole, and then, upon the turn of the page, the backside of the crocodile looking through that very same hole at the previous page.) Yaccarino’s (So Big, 2000, etc.) characteristically flat illustrations here take on some weight, occupying two and three dimensions at the same time—a perfect marriage of illustrative style to concept. Unfortunately, the concept is executed at the narrative level in verse that barely rises above doggerel, attempting to convey a fairly sophisticated conceit in language better suited to Sesame Street. In fact, the whole production is well-meaning in a very Sesame Street–esque way, failing to challenge the reader as other attempts at picture-book metaliterature do (Art Spiegelman’s Open Me . . . I’m a Dog, 1997, comes to mind). The “story,” such as it is, ends with the following statement: “Wait—the fun’s not over yet. / I’ll catch my breath—and then, / walk around to the front of the book, / and go back through again!” As a curiosity, readers may “go through” once. Again? Not likely. (Picture book. 4-8)