April 27, 2012
By Herve Tullet; illus. by author
2-4 Preschool Primary Chronicle 56 pp.
978-0811879545 Hardcover $15.99
Recipient of more starred reviews than one can count, Herve Tullet's groundbreaking picture book, Press Here, could very well be the most interactive book of 2011 based solely on the tacit agreement between its author and the reader - follow these instructions and things will happen! And they do. Without pull tabs, flaps or batteries, Press Here illustrates the power of cause and effect as one yellow dot becomes two when the narrator instructs the reader to "press here and turn the page". More instructions follow, paired with more dots and a lot of positive reinforcement (the narrator wisely "responds" to the reader's successful pressing, rubbing and shaking with many a well-placed "perfect!" and "excellent"). Dots expand and contract, get blown to the top of the page and shaken down, and all the while the unspoken agreement between author and reader holds firm - do this and the book will respond. Therein lies the magic that belies picture book technologies like iPhone apps and electronic adaptations. Therein lies the magic that brings children back to their favorite books again and again: Do This. Read Me. I Will Respond. It's a wonderful thing to see it done so inventively and with such exuberant force. Press Here is so innovative in its simplicity, so true to what picture books can do, that it's an almost overwhelming read from this adult's perspective. From a child's perspective however, it's a game pure and simple, and that perspective is certainly the most important of all.