cover image The Disappearing Mr. Jacques

The Disappearing Mr. Jacques

Gideon Sterer, illus. by Benjamin Chaud. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-57941-0

In an approach that vaguely recalls Tullet’s Press Here, Sterer uses the pages of a book to represent an interactive magic act. In glib stage patter, the magician, portrayed with light skin and brown hair, introduces himself: “I am the astonishing, bewildering, disappearing Mr. Jacques.” Chaud draws the magician in top hat, tails, a flashy red bow tie, and a glittery-eyed stare. After a dramatic build-up (“Look at me... while you still can”), the figure begins to fade. Over a series of carefully graded spreads, he becomes fainter and fainter in contrast to a rabbit sidekick who remains vividly present. Another page turn, and Mr. Jacques disappears altogether, leaving behind a blank page. Yet “you can still hear my voice, can’t you?” Though the “voice” is just words on the page, the effect is surprisingly powerful, and the act continues. At last, if readers follow the stated directions, Mr. Jacques demonstrates that readers, too, have magic powers—of a sort. It’s a work of entertainment that produces an eerie sense of presence. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)