cover image Inside This Book (Are Three Books)

Inside This Book (Are Three Books)

Barney Saltzberg. Abrams Appleseed, $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1487-0

The covers of Saltzberg’s (Beautiful Oops!) book are imagined as a binding for three homemade books by fictional siblings Seymour, Fiona, and Wilbur. Sized according to birth order (Wilbur’s is the smallest), the individually tipped-in books are windows into the children’s distinctive personalities. Cerebral Seymour, who may remind readers of Marc Brown’s Arthur, reflects on the book-making assignment, then finishes with a monster comic. Fiona creates a rhyming tribute to her passion for poetry (“I could write poems from here to the moon./ The only trouble is... I am out of room!”). And Wilbur, who draws his story but dictates the text to Fiona, turns a straightforward introduction to his family into a funny dinosaur encounter. The mixed-media illustrations stretch credulity in ways that the stories don’t—the draftsmanship is too polished to look truly childlike. But the novel format, reminiscent of Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s Open This Little Book (2013), proves that self-publishing was a kid thing long before adults claimed it and should be an effective prompt for family and classroom activities. Ages 3–6. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)