cover image A Book

A Book

Mordicai Gerstein, . . Roaring Brook, $16.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-251-2

Living in a book is a bummer if you’re the only character in the family who doesn’t have a story. That’s the problem facing Caldecott Medalist Gerstein’s (The Man Who Walked Between the Towers ) pigtailed protagonist—even her family’s pets have stories (“It’s the story of a dog who seeks interesting odors,” says the dachshund. “Goodbye. I’m off to sniff!”). The girl never does find a story she can drop into, but in the funny, freewheeling pages that follow, she discovers what a reader is (“EEEEK!” she exclaims, as she looks up and spots you-know-who peering down at her) and how the universe is filled with story possibilities, from historical fiction to Alice in Wonderland . Gerstein is playing at meta-fiction at a higher level than most authors do for this target group, and it’s possible that younger audiences will be beguiled by the spunky heroine and the comics-style dialogue balloons and mystified by everything else. (Why do the family members have individual stories instead of one collective story?) Aspiring writers may be the most receptive: they’ll see their own creative ambitions mirrored in the girl’s wily willingness to find her narrative voice. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)