Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe

Images and text by Carter.

Go ahead. Judge this book by its cover. And you’ll probably ignore the signs, and the chains, and the warning tape. That’s okay, because you’ll have some opportunities to back out once you start reading. After all, you don’t want to let the monkeys out. That’s the invitation and promise of Warning: Do Not Open This Book!

How utterly irresistible that the mayhem caused by a troop of monkeys is on your hands! You can control the chaos, but I’ll bet your curiosity gets in the way. And how could it not? The monkeys paint their own mess, which makes for vivid and thrilling pictures. Turning those pages triggers the madness, and closing the book is the only way to contain the catastrophe.

This book is a ton of fun. It’s reminiscent of a huge favorite from my childhood — do you remember The Monster at the End of This Book? Good old Grover was adamant that you not turn the pages of that book, for fear of a furry monster at the end. Which, as we know, turns out to be Grover himself. But every single time, reading that book was an adventure and a thrill. This modern trend of metafiction has clearly been around since the classics. But still – it’s such smart storytelling, and honors the wit and sophistication of young readers. Books that have an awareness of their book-ish-ness inherently are clever in their execution and celebrate story in such a remarkable way.

P.S. — Do you have other metafiction favorites? I’m a huge fan of Chloe and the Lion, The Three Pigs, and Open This Little Book. And since I’m a massive Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett fan, I’m especially looking forward to their latest collaboration, Battle Bunny.