With a title like Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, any reader’s curiosity will be piqued, and this story counts on its well-intentioned instructions to be ignored by mischievous readers curious as to why they have counterintuitively been forbidden to open a book. The book develops incredibly well. The playfulness begins building at the opening endpapers, which contain warnings like “This book is super dangerous,” and “I guess you don’t mind being mauled by monkeys,” with half the word “monkeys” having been bitten off the sign. From there readers encounter a single warning sign that shows the face of a monkey with the word “Danger” written above it. The text on the page ominously warns “You don’t want to let the monkeys out.” As pages are of course flipped the first monkey appears innocently enough, poking its harmless head out from the side of the page. Chaos builds on the following pages as monkeys, toucans, and an alligator are all added to the mix. Forsythe’s illustrations match Lehrhaupt’s playful tone, and the introduction of the alligator is particularly well done as only half of its mouth appears from the side of the page, with “monkeys” written in the middle of the alligator’s gaping mouth. “That didn’t sound like . . . monkeys. . . . “ reads the text. Other pages also include fun interplay of the text and illustrations as the monkeys disrupt the normal layout of the text. The book design is best for a certain age range, probably between 3 and 4, when young readers want to follow the book’s pleadings for laying and executing the suggested plan; after a certain age, kids will just start to disrupt the narrative themselves and, for example, yell when they’re told to be quiet so as not to alert the characters to the plan.
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