Nancy Pearl used the term “meta-picture book” to describe Melanie Watt’s Chester, and its sequel, in which the title character is actively involved in the subversion of the book itself. Another book by Watt sells itself, its title proclaiming Have I Got a Book for You! Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? Polly Horvath lives there now. In her chapter book The Pepins and their Problems, a great book for third graders and up or read aloud, Horvath asks for and presents suggestions from her readers (sent to her via telepathy) as to what her characters should do to solve their various (and hilarious) problems. Lots of books refer back to themselves to have fun.
Check out Emily Gravett’s Wolves as well as Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears, both triumphs of book design and winners of the Kate Greenaway award. As in David Wiesner’s masterful The Three Pigs, in which the wolf blows the pig right out of the story (just the beginning of a wild turn of events), the books themselves are apparently affected by the events unfolding within them as we read them.
In his review of Do Not Open this Book!, Bruce Handy asks, “Do kids really want to explore the artificiality of the fictive narrative? Probably not,” he answers, “unless there are good jokes.” Yep, good jokes-and how about suspense?
Here are two modern read aloud picture book classics. In Go Away Big Green Monster, the reader (or the read-to) causes a monster to appear and then to disappear with the turning of the pages. Get ready for your child to say, "Read it again!" The Monster at the End of this Book, Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover is a favorite because it was read to me when I was a little guy. And I’m not the only one. Lots of adults have fond memories of this book. In an effort to prevent us from having to deal with the monster at the end of the book, Grover implored us, "Please do not turn the page!". Of course, we did turn the page and there sat Grover, in a pile of bricks and dust, observing, “Did you know that you are very strong?” Now that was fun. Read it again!
The Monster at the End of this Book