cover image Warning: Do Not Open This Book!

Warning: Do Not Open This Book!

Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Matthew Forsythe. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3582-7

Mixed messages about reading abound, from Michaela Muntean and Pascal Lemaitre’s Do Not Open This Book! to Cece Meng and Joy Ang’s I Will Not Read This Book and Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s Open This Little Book. Lehrhaupt’s debut predictably counts on curious readers to ignore the dire warning and its accompanying threat, “You don’t want to let the monkeys out.” As pages turn, lemurs, baboons, and rhesus monkeys stalk into the spreads, where they pluck at the printed words and paint trees for themselves. The narrator’s uninspired pleas to readers (“Can you stop now? Everything used to be so good”) scaffold Forsythe’s (My Name Is Elizabeth!) primitive, earth-tone watercolors of the escalating melee. When a flock of toucans joins the troublemaking monkeys, and a giant alligator emerges from the right margin, readers get to be part of the solution: “You can catch them all in this book!” If Forsythe’s grainy illustrations echo Jon Klassen’s picture books, the mood in this outing is light and message-free. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Aug.)