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  •  2016 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book AwardPlease, Open this Book!

    Please, Open This Book!  written by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe, and published by Simon & Schuster, 2015

    Have you ever felt that the characters of a story were talking directly to you? The book begins with animals on the front cover speaking directly to the reader and asking them to “PLEASE, open this book”.  The opening pages are black because, of course, it would be dark inside a closed book.  The pages reveal what has happened to the characters because the book was closed.  No, actually it was slammed shut!  We see an alligator with his leg in a sling, a toucan with a bandaged beak, and a lemur that has been imprisoned for days.  The characters plead with readers to not close the book once it has been opened. 

    While this appears to be a book for younger students, its humor appealed to students from kindergarten through fifth grade.  Teachers commented that the kids chuckled and belly laughed through the entire book and that  it reminded them of the pigeon books by Mo Wilhems and the book, No, David! by David Shannon. The students were intrigued that the author used the front and back covers to tell the story, as well as to give the solution to the problem.  One reader commented that, “This book is over the top unique” while another noted that, “My students experience so much sadness and difficulty in their lives that anything that can make them laugh, even for a few moments, is very positive and this book has done that for them.”

    Adam Lehraupt’s first book, Warning, Do Not Open This Book (2013) was selected as an ALA and Huffington Post notable book and was a E.B. White Read Aloud honor book in 2014. Lehraupt has appeared on Broadway, lived on a communal farm, and currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife and sons.  Matthew Forsythe is a comic book artist and children’s book illustrator and designs for animation.  He was the lead designer for Adventure Time on the Cartoon Network.  My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee was his first children’s book.  It was named a New York Times Notable Children’s Book in 2011.  Forsythe makes his home in Montreal, Canada.  (CONNIE HOWITSON)