cover image This Is Not a Normal Animal Book

This Is Not a Normal Animal Book

Julie Segal-Walters, illus. by Brian Biggs. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-3922-0

Who’s in charge of making a picture book: the illustrator or the writer? And what happens if they don’t get along? Segal-Walters’s debut begins as an ordinary introduction to different types of animals (mammals, birds, amphibians, etc.), but before long the illustrator has taken over. “If the hen hopped on lily pads, it would be a frog,” says the narrator. “A frog?” asks the illustrator incredulously. “This is so confusing.” With pencil shavings, crayons, erasers, scissors, tape, and construction paper, Biggs (the Tinyville Town series) uses in-progress drawings, used erasers, and taped-in images to show an illustrator struggling mightily to interpret the text as the narrator grows increasingly frustrated. The text turns demanding, and when the story requires a blobfish, the illustrator refuses to comply, proposing several alternatives (“Doesn’t sunfish sound better than blobfish?”) before offering a very close-up photograph of a blobfish. Even as the tale concludes, there’s no end in sight to the quarrelling—the banter spills over into a list of animal facts. A knowing and very funny behind-the-scenes look at the art—and negotiation—of collaboration. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Danielle Smith, Lupine Grove Creative. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)