This Book Is Not for You!
Shannon Hale, illus. by Tracy Subisak. Dial, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-984816-85-6
This fantastical tongue-in-cheek picture book by Hale (Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn) follows light-skinned, dark-haired Stanley as he attempts to check out a book from the bookmobile “waiting at the crossroads, shiny as a rocket ship.” In place of the “bookmobile lady,” however, an elderly pale-skinned man leans out of the window and discourages Stanley from his selection, The Mysterious Sandwich: “Looks like this book is about a girl. You don’t want this one, do you?” Events take a turn for the surreal when the old man responds to Stanley’s desire for a robot book: “Only robots can read books about robots,” he says as a robot rolls up. While Stanley attempts to find a suitable title, various anthropomorphic animals are depicted making selections, until Stanley and his bespectacled, light brown–skinned friend Valeria decide to trade—and a purple allosaurus in want of a pony book marches up and asserts herself. Subisak (Amah Faraway) brings her characteristic, doodle-reminiscent style to pages that expertly balance white space with dot-eyed characters human and nonhuman alike, rendered in light-hued washes of India ink, Japanese watercolor, pastel, and colored pencil. A gently delivered, persuasive case against the idea that books’ audiences are innately gendered or otherwise limited. Ages 3–7. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Kilkelly, LK Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2022