Warning! Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nick Bromley and Nicole O'Byrne
"IT'S A... CROCODILE!
OH, NO! HE'S EATING THE LETTERS. I THINK O AND S ARE HIS FAVORITES!
ST P, MR. CR C DILE! Y U CANT EAT THE LETTERS!"
If you thought you were in for your father's The Ugly Duckling, have you got another think coming! The croc's tail on the first page reinforces the impression from the cover that there's more going on inside the covers of Nick Bromley's and Nicola O'Byrne's Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite (Nosy Crow, 2013) than a dainty retelling of a Hans Christian Andersen classic. Despite the best efforts of the little grey duck narrator, the venerable duck-to-swan tale winds up with a few, er, missing elements.
The duckling comes up with some clever counter ploys. Pulling out the ever useful purple crayon, he encourages to the reader to draw a dainty hairbow, tutu, and lace-up ballet shoes on the croc.
"OH, NO! HE'S NOT LOOKING TOO HAPPY ABOUT THAT TUTU!"
The crocodile takes it on the lam, bashing his snout on the page-right margin of the book, and makes his ultimate escape by biting a hole in the last page and escaping through the back cover just in time.
Well, um, I guess that's it for storytime today, folks!
Nicola O'Byrne's interactive book design and unusual palette give this book plenty of pizzazz, and the die-cut bite out of the back cover is a clever way to get this unwanted scaly interloper out of the tale (except for the tip of his tail) in as graceful an ending as possible, leaving an, er, open-ended conclusion that suggests that this text-eating croc may be back. Of O'Byrne's work here, Publishers Weekly says "her integration of typography and action is consistently ingenious."