cover image If You Laugh, I’m Starting This Book Over

If You Laugh, I’m Starting This Book Over

Chris Harris, illus. by Serge Bloch. Little, Brown, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-3164-2488-2

Following a list of rules that reiterate the titular conceit, this picture book’s narrator addresses the audience in emphatic typography: “I have something that I really want to tell you. It’s a BIG THING. And it’s very serious.” What is it? The only way listening audiences will find out is by remaining utterly poker-faced. If they laugh even once, the reader is instructed to start the book all over again. But while Harris (The Alphabet’s Alphabet) and co-conspirator Bloch (I Voted) say one thing, they do quite another: each page’s “don’t laugh” admonition is actually a highly interactive attempt to make readers ROTFL. Comic mileage varies as the verbal and visual slapstick proliferates—in one spread, the narrator solemnly announces their “real name,” Chicken McStinkbreath Eyeball, and the accompanying ink and digitally collaged artwork offers a reaction shot from a flabbergasted green fowl with bloodshot eyes. The big reveal turns out to be a mushy grown-up sentiment, but the pages that precede it give license for the kind of no-holds-barred readaloud that should tickle younger audiences. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Richard Abate, 3Arts. Illustrator’s agent: Marlena Torzecka, Marlena Agency. (Sept.) [/em]