Children's Review: Press Here

Even though you--and most children--know intellectually that it won't make a bit of difference, you can't help but "press here" when Hervé Tullet tells you to place your finger on the yellow dot that appears on the cover. And it doesn't stop there. The first page, with just one yellow dot in the middle of a vast white background, poses a one-word question: "Ready?" And a child's (a child of any age) response will be, "You bet!" Touching the dot adds another, so the next page shows two. If, on the next page (which shows three dots), you rub the left dot "gently," it turns red on the next page. Each action appears to inspire a reaction in the book. Several pages later, three vertical rows appear: five dots in red, five dots in yellow, and five dots in blue. The author asks us to "try shaking the book... just a little bit," and on the next page the dots seem to dance randomly, still sticking to the right-hand page. But when you shake "a little bit harder," the dots bound across the spread. Children can keep track and see that the same number of dots still appear (all 15, five of each color). And, when they tilt the book to the left, the next page shows them all shifted to the left-hand margin;a mirror response occurs with a tilt to the right and a shift of the dots to the right-hand margin on the next page.. Just the response they'd see on certain electronic devices.

At other points, the dots overlap, introducing the colors that result from primary colors mixing (green, orange, purple)--but never with a lesson. One of the genius qualities of this book is that even though it's clearly making a case for the great glory of books, it never adopts an attitude. It celebrates the pure joy of page flippings, book turnings and the ability to grab the two covers in both hands and toss it up and down. The narrator-coach even encourages us ("Well done!"). Good thing this perfect square book comes packaged as a board book with rounded corners and strong laminated pages meant for repeated readings. This is one that will be passed around every classroom, every library and at every gathering of family and friends. It must be experienced solo, but then you'll want to share it immediately (to see if everyone else presses the dot and shakes the book up and down like you did). Irresistible.--Jennifer M. Brown


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