Just because a YouTube music video garners a zillion hits, you can’t assume it will make a good picture book.
In fact, it’s usually pretty safe to assume the opposite, as the earworm aspect of a viral video is lost in a pictorial medium that depends on, usually, an amateur reader for sound. This hastily assembled picture book of Europop sensation Ylvis’ video—just over 3 months old at the date of the book’s publication—is no exception. Norwegian Hans Christian Andersen nominee Nyhus creates surreal digital paintings in grays, russets and browns that present the titular fox and other animals in a dizzying variety of attitudes. “Dizzying” is the operative word, as many of the animals’ shapes are distorted as if in a fun-house mirror, and details often crowd the spreads. They do their best but ultimately cannot wrest readers’ focus from such banal lines as, “Your fur is red. / So beautiful, / like an angel in disguise.” Words and syntax arbitrarily wedged into a rhythmic rhyme scheme are a lot easier to forgive in a song than on the printed page. The book should come alive during the authors’ energetic riffs on what a fox might actually say—“Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! / … / Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!”—but as these and similar lines plop down in two triplet sets per page and do not come with an electronic assist, they bring the reading to a halt rather than galvanizing it. It all begs one critical question:
Why spend $17.99 when you can listen to it for free on YouTube? (Picture book. 4-8)