Monday, October 29, 2012

8. The Boo! Book

By Nathaniel Lachenmeyer
Pictures by Nicoletta Ceccoli
Atheneum, 2012
$17.99, ages 4 and up, 46 pages

In this delightful story, a boy's curiosity takes flight as he imagines what a book ghost would do if he ran into a reader like you.

While reading in a comfy chair with his legs dangling over an arm, the boy gets the notion that his book is haunted, then comes up with all the ways in which book ghosts spook about.

Illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli gives ghosts a wondrous, mischevious look: their bodies are like swirls of Marshmallow Topping and have fangs as tiny as the tips of toothpicks.

Cecolli pans in on the page so that readers feel as if they're looking into the boy's book with him. Then as the boy's hand appears to turn the page, he imagines the ghosts getting into mischief and toying with readers.

First, the boys asks readers to imaging a ghost turning a sunny day in a picture book topsy turvy: a girl is leaping along as her dog tugs at his leash -- when all of sudden the page turns and everything is reversed. The dog is now walking the girl and the sky has turned dark and snowy.

"Book ghosts," he explains, "like nothing better than to meddle in stories and turn them upside down." But not in a scary way, just a sneaky one. Among the telltale signs that a book is a haunted: words get scrambled and books feel cool to the touch.

Sometimes ghosts even appear in pictures of a book reading the same book readers are looking at! (Here Ceccoli makes the boy's book look like a fun house mirror.)

Once book ghosts know that readers see them, be ready, because book ghosts love company and might just pull readers inside. Now if that happens, the only way out of the book is to read to the ghosts and promise to come again.

Book ghosts, he adds, are a lot of fun, but they need to know that readers want them around. So don't stop reading haunted books or all the ghosts might just fly away! 

Author Nathaniel Lachenmeyer captures the carefree abandon of child who gives in to his imagination. As the boy's enthusiasm for the idea of book ghosts grows, he chatters on as if he's known about them forever.

Ceccoli then visualizes every fanciful thought he has in soft magical paintings: The boy's eyes glisten with wonder and his hair looks fearless: chocolate tufts of hair curl out of his head like piped frosting.

The ghosts are devilishly cute and float about in play. On one spread, a pink button-headed dog sails by a Chicklet-toothed alien with three dangly eyes, a shimmering fish with butterfly wings and a jellyfish girl who holds her head like a balloon.

By book's end, readers will want to lug out all their books and peer under the pages to see if their stories are haunted too.

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