Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Nosy Crow (2013) - distributed in Australia by Allen and Unwin (rrp AUD $22.99.)
What would you do if you were settling down for a quiet bedtime story and you realised that a crocodile had fallen out of one story and into yours and was - not to put too fine a point on it - furious? A wonderful picture 'book about books'.
Children enjoy playful books. I predict they'll beg for more after you share Open Very Carefully with them. It's a book and a game in one, a joyous romp so beautifully supported by the format. There's a die-cut hole in several pages and the back cover that's testimony to the power of crocodile teeth! Bromley's sense of humour is evident from the title page where The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen is scribbled out and our duckling hero sets off instead to try to protect us and stop the crocodile. Luckily, readers aren't the least bit scared, despite all those teeth! O'Byrne's illustrations are wonderful - dramatic, colourful, and large enough to share with a whole class group.
I love that the book calls for kids to interact with it. They're invited to rock the book back and forwards to put the crocodile to sleep, and later to try to shake him out of the book. Open Very Carefully would make an excellent text to use with kids when you want to introduce the idea of puzzles and codes very simply as the crocodile actually eats letters. Kids will have fun inventing puzzles involving words with missing letters for their friends to solve.
My edition is a beautifully made, sturdy hardback that I believe will stand up to library and classroom use as both pages and cover are excellent quality. Librarians often need a book about books to use as an introduction to the library - here's a fun one that also focuses on letters and words. Need a gift for a baby shower or birthday? Even small children appreciate a book with bite. Nosy Crow have some activity sheets to accompany the book.
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