Play This Book, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman and written by Jessica Young, published by Bloomsbury, ISBN:978-1681195063.
I have encountered several titles recently that strive to capture interactive feel of Hervé Tullet’s best work (for example, Press Here). Books that encourage the reader to physically interact with the pages within: touching, tapping, shaking them. And one of the very best is Play This Book, which offers readers the chance to treat the book like a guitar, drums, maracas, saxophone, among other instruments. The sturdy pages invite the most enthusiastic pint-sized musicians to have a blast. Wiseman’s vibrant, very child-friendly (and child-like) illustrations immediately bring young readers in as Young’s sing-songy simple rhymes stir up the excitement of putting on a musical show. She uses the collective “we” to show we are all in this together, forming an impromptu band. When we flip the page and see a pink guitar, Young slips into the “you” pronoun saying “You can rock on the guitar” and then instructs the reader to strum the instrument with “your thumb.” And then there’s a sound effect: STRUM, STRUM, STRUM. And then we continue through the other instruments (which also include our happy dancing, stomping feet).
Now of course this would work as a one on one title. However, I can happily say that this works with large groups too. I touch the book and have the children mime strumming the guitar, or tinking and tunking the piano keys. Asking the kids if they love music and love the various instruments they see adds another layer of fun to reading it out loud to a group. I also like how the book needs to be turned vertically for the saxophone page; this adds a nice visual twist. It’s fun asking children “am I holding the book correctly?” when getting to this page. Throughout we see a variety of children playing the instruments in question. And they look supercool, like they’re ready for the School of Rock.
Play This Book is a rowdy addition to storytimes about music. It reaches new heights of delight when we get to the cymbals page. In order to do the CRAAAAASH of the cymbals, we must close and open the book dramatically. The book ends with bows and bravos. All well-deserved.