'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 17 February 2018

Review: I Want To Be In A Scary Story

I've been loving the wave of interactive picture books that have been released over the last few years. I take such delight in leading young readers, be it visitors to the library or my own children, through a story that requires them to respond to questions from the characters, follow requests or instructions, and converse animatedly with what is the brilliantly simple combination of an inanimate illustration and their own stimulated imaginations.

While I have read many (many, many!) picture books that directly address the reader(s) and ask for verbal or physical interaction, I haven't come across one quite like I Want to be in a Scary Story. This picture books is unique in the sense that it is the narrator and the character of the story that are interacting, while the reader remains a passive, though still highly engaged, participant.

A little purple monster standing on a blank white page informs the narrator that he would like to be in a scary story. Not a funny story, like the narrator suggests, but a SCARY story. Oh yes, the little monster insists! But when he finds himself plonked down in a scary forest, the little monster is not so sure. And so back to the blank white page he goes to further discuss with the narrator what exactly he would like to happen in this story that he is in.

As the story progresses, the little monsters finds that his instructions are twisted around to give results that he isn't quite expecting, and each time he returns back to the blank white page and attempts to correct the narrator to the direction that he would actually like the story to go. Somehow though, the narrator does not ever quite manage to deliver on what the little monster has requested.

Different coloured text allows the reader to quickly distinguish who in the story is saying what, while the simplicity of the illustrations and colour palette set a friendly environment that is not overtly scary, allowing younger readers to discover the delights of feeling safely spooked. I have no doubts that this will become a regularly requested picture book in our house.

Title: I Want to be in a Scary Story
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Jean Jullien
Publisher: Walker Books, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 September 2017
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781406363463
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book