An unusual and interactive picture book that made me giggle and laugh out loud. Fabulous!
Ben and his cat are playing tickle and chase across the page when something very odd happens … his cat disappears. Luckily his best friend, Bella, notices something is wrong and offers to investigate. Ben thinks that’s a good idea until Bella suddenly disappears too. In fact, everyone who tries to help disappears. Soon everyone is gone and there’s only one person left who can come to the rescue – the reader! But, don’t despair, there’s a message with some detailed instructions so you might just be able to save the day.
The moment I read the blurb for this book, I knew I had to get hold of a copy. A picture book that breaks the fourth wall? I was immediately intrigued. A picture book that’s pitched as ‘interactive’ but contains no special gimmicks? I simply had to know how that would work! I suspected I may be disappointed but I most definitely wasn’t. This book is truly fabulous and left me giggling for some time after I’d finished reading.
The concept is simply inspired. [Warning: don’t read on if you don’t want to know how this works.] Essentially when there is no-one left, the reader finds a message with instructions to tickle the inside spine of the book while counting “tickly-one, tickly-two, tickly-three” which – of course – brings everyone back.
It sounds simple but it works wonderfully. It helps that everything else about the book is so incredibly good. The highly-stylised pictures are simple, bright and immediately engaging. (Richard Byrne’s ability to dramatically alter Ben’s expression with just a few minor changes is particularly impressive). The large bright orange font also adds a quirky feel to the book while the simplicity of the text makes it perfect for children as they begin to identify and remember individual words.
The illustrations of the various rescue teams also made me smile (especially the ‘cat search and rescue’ truck with its oversized cat basket) while the twist at the end when Ben’s cat reappears made me laugh out loud. [Sorry, I’m not going to tell you that one!].
If you enjoyed this why not join me in investigating Richard Byrne’s other books about Ben and Bella. I’m planning to hunt out a copy of This Book Just Ate My Dog!, We’re In The Wrong Book! and This Book Is Out Of Control!
Publication date: February 2019
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Website: Richard Byrne