Friday, March 14, 2014

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier; illustrated by Suzy Lee (2013)

Gimmicky, but more in a fun gimmicky way, not a hacky way.  Suzy Lee's marvelous illustrations for all the little books look like she raided a 1960s public library, with a treasure trove of picture books from that and each preceding decade.  There isn't really any characters or stiory; rather, the gimmick is the whole thing.  Well, perhaps not the whole thing; the raison d'etre is the last sentence:  "You close this little red book... and... open another!"  Although you may disappointed that the next book you pick up isn't as interactive as this one.  That said, I can remember reading some book at my little public library that was a "scratch and sniff."  Most of the sniff had been long scratched out, but you could still catch faint whiffs of skunks and lemons.  And I don't remember expecting the next picture book I picked up to have embedded smells.  I just expected the next book I picked up to be good.  I'd say that if I finished Ask Mr. Bear and then picked up Open This Little Book, I would say that both are good in their own, unique ways.  

I wonder about the origins of the idea for this book.  There isn't very much prose, it's not story driven at all.  Did Jesse Klausmeier have the idea for the book and sold it?  Curious.

Who knew: ???

According to Anstey (2002), characteristics of postmodern picture books include:
  • Non-traditional plot structure
  • Using the pictures or text to position the reader to read the text in a particular way, for example, through a character's eyes or point-of-view.
  • The reader's involvement with constructing the meaning of the text.
  • Intertextual references, which requires the reader to make connections to other books or knowledge, in order to better understand the text.
  • Varied design layout and a variety of styles of illustration.
This book definitely falls into that category.  

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gimmicks in picture books are in vogue (I suppose they always have been and always will be), postmodern gimmicks that turn books into something else, with an emphasis on interactivity.  Open This Little Book is a quite lovely and exciting example of picture book postmodernity. Suzy Lee's illustrations are like the raided the shelves of a 1960s public library children's room, with examples of illustrations representing that and each preceding decade.  Midcentury modern madness, in all the right ways. The cover doesn't lead you to expect that this, or any of what occurs, is going to happen, which is another magical thing about the book. There is no plot and barely any characters here; rather, the gimmick and the last line in the book are the raison d'etre.  

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