cover image Help! We Need a Title!

Help! We Need a Title!

Hervé Tullet. Candlewick, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7021-4

With plenty of self-referential good cheer, Tullet (Press Here) makes fun of picture books—and of himself, too. The fourth wall comes down immediately as a hastily scrawled cast of characters—fairy princess, pig, dog, snake, stick figure—look out of the page in faux shock (“Someone’s watching us!”). “I think they would like a story,” says the pig. They scramble to provide entertainment, holding up a cheesy ocean sunset backdrop, then recruiting a bad guy. “I don’t know anything about stories,” says the red monster, who’s more sweet than scary. “You’re going to need someone else... an author!” A door opens to reveal Tullet in his studio, a photo of his aggrieved face pasted onto a scribbled cartoon body. “Sorry,” he says, in comic consternation, “but you can’t stay here.... This book isn’t finished yet!” After creating a hasty story for his characters, the author chases everybody out. Particularly effective is Tullet’s use of varying visual vocabularies to signal the frame stories and the narratives inside them, while exuberant splashes and splotches read as the happy embrace of imperfection. Ages 4–8. (May)