Who doesn’t like a bit of metafiction? In Please, Open This Book! a group of quirky monkeys do their best to convince the reader not to close the book for fear of being trapped (once again) inside the pages. They plead. They bat their eyes. They offer bribes (a bruised, half-eaten banana — “The other half was tasty”) and even to change the story (“It will be a good story” — an anguished gorilla sits at a typewriter amid dozens of discards all covered in one word “Banana”). They even turn to threats (“You could get stuck too. Did you think about that?”) and name calling (“Don’t be a book closer” — an insult that has captured the imagination of our household). Inevitably, the monkeys fail. The book is closed. Hope is not lost, however, as there are small print instructions on the back cover as to how to rectify the situation (“You can fix this. Flip it over and…”).
This book has never only been read once in a sitting in our house. We can (maybe) get away with reading it twice, but never fewer times than that. We’re not complaining though. Luckily, the dark wit of Matthew Forsythe’s illustrations delight adult and child alike.