Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley

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Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: A croc is lurking in these pages but we can outwit him. A book with bags of humour, a cunning story and an unexpected way out. For children from 3 to grown up.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Nosy Crow
ISBN: 978-0763661632

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Longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

Here's another brilliant picture book from Nosy Crow. If you haven't already heard of them, these newish publishers are ones to watch. They seem to be nurturing artists and writers with an ability to think outside the box, in a children's field already replete with creative talent.

Open Very Carefully starts off as The Ugly Duckling, with retro illustrations reminiscent of Peter and Jane or those old Ladybird readers of the 1960's. Yes, I think this is a book especially for children learning to read. Soon bits of a very large crocodile stealthily appear. Of course, there are scary monsters lurking inside many books, but there's an arresting immediacy to this crocodile that will have small people on the edge of their seats in two shakes of a duck's tail. We tiptoe onwards with the Ugly Duckling, but the croc has other ideas: he starts chewing up the letters to stop us reading. (I liked the fact that O and S were his favourite snacks, since they're easy letters for beginners to recognise).

The narrator pragmatically points out: We can't have a book without words! What will we read ... if there aren't any sentences? Well he and the Ugly Duckling come up with a couple of brilliantly anarchic ideas to rout the croc, involving some Herve Tullet jiggling, a tutu and a pair of ballet shoes. I promise this surprising twist will appeal hugely to the chaps as well as ballerinas on the receiving end. And then the croc crashes out in a totally unexpected exit - well, the first time you read the story, anyway.

I loved the abrupt switch in focus from fairy tale to nuts and bolts. Children already interested in words and letters will get the narrator's logicality, although younger children will still enjoy engaging with the menacing crocodile. For adults it's just a gas from beginning to end, all three adults hooting with laughter when I tried the story out. The stage directions for transforming 'story' into 'performance' are pretty clear, so you can coast along on authorial creativity even if it is the end of a long, hard day.

Nicola O'Byrne's drawings of the croc are tremendously expressive, and there's lots to be discussed about The Ugly Duckling, who appears on every page. I'm tempted to add some speech bubbles, from where the Duckling can comment on the action, because it's that sort of book.

Thank you, Nosy Crow, for sending this book.

If you don't know Herve Tullet, the French prince of pre-school books, then 'Press Here' is a wonderful place to start. At The Bookbag we have liked several Nosy Crow books recently: Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger and Weasels by Elys Dolan for younger children; Dear Scarlett by Fleur Hitchcock and Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge for older children.

Booklists.jpg Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley is in the Top Ten Picture Books of 2013.
Buy Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite! by Nicola O'Byrne and Nick Bromley at Amazon.com.


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