I've been handing it around to friends ever since I received it and it's put a smile on every single person's face — kid or adult. What's more, it's not just entertaining. It's also a really clever way to get people thinking about perspective, and how everyday objects can be transformed with just a little bit of imagination.
The magic lies in the detail of these deceptively simple illustrations. The visual games begin with the cover, where the front and back covers show what's happening on either side of a door. Then it's on to the opening spread — a huge gaping monster mouth. My friend's little boy couldn't resist chasing his brother around, 'snapping' the book's 'jaws' shut on him!
Over the page and the book is transformed into a laptop — screen on the left, keyboard on the right. Of course, I instinctively turned the book around until my 'laptop' was in the right position … on my lap!
So it goes on. A butterfly flaps its wings. A spread transforms into a theatre with the actors on the stage and the audience looking up from below. My personal favourite is the tent, where my daughter and I found ourselves with the book folded into a triangle over our heads so we too could be reading in the snug confines of the shelter.
The final pages fold out into a house's interior, and here Jean Jullien hides one last surprise for us — which I won't spoil here, no matter how badly I want to! This is a book (not a book!) that works on so many levels — it will entertain the littlies (and its board book format means it will withstand the vigorous handling of very little fingers), engage and inspire the slightly older kids, and perhaps remind any adults who might have forgotten that books can take us anywhere we want to go. Books really are so much more than 'just books'. Jean Jullien = creative genius.
Title: This is Not a Book
Author/Illustrator: Jean Jullien
Publisher: Phaidon, $14.95 RRP
Publication Date: April 2016
For ages: 2 to 100!
Type: Picture Book/Board Book