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Friday, April 11, 2014

Open Very Carefully, words by Nick Bromley and artwork by Nicola O'Byrne. Nosy Crow, Candlewick Press. Random House, 2013. $18.00 ages 3and up

A really big scary one!

What's he doing in
this book?

He might bite your
finger or scratch your

Crocodiles like to do that.

You know there's foul play afoot when the warning 'Open Very Carefully' appears stamped across the book's inside title, The Ugly Duckling. Not only that, but there is a scribbling across Hans Christian Andersen's name below that title. In its place, we see that Nicola O'Byrne is responsible for the illustrations and Nick Bromley has created the text. Seems suspicious, wouldn't you agree?

The pastoral scene that accompanies the first page of text seems innocuous enough, doesn't it? A mama duck followed by three perfect yellow ducklings and one bigger white bird wearing a red knit cap. They are at ease, and enjoying their time on the pond. Check out the text that faces this family outing and you are sure to notice a long, spiky green and yellow tail:

"I'm trying to read you the story "The Ugly Duckling", but there's something in the book that shouldn't be here!"

OOPS! Sure enough, it's a crocodile, and it's bound to cause quite the interruption. You should be very, very careful when there's a crocodile in your vicinity. He's eating the letters on the page! Now, words and sentences! Perhaps a rocking motion with book in hand will inspire sleep. It works!

Will messing him up with a crayon while he sleeps send him looking for greener and more accommodating pastures? Can we help him leave? You'll never guess how he makes his escape!

The tiny red-capped swan acts as our narrator and guide in this delightfully interactive tale, allowing all young listeners to play a role is ridding the book of this obstreperous interloper. Kids love books that allow them to play a role in its outcome. They are sure to want to help get that crocodile set on a new path. They will delight in the many problems that his presence creates, and in his solution to escape the trap in which he finds himself.

Oh, please read it again...and again...and again! You won't be sorry.

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