Do Not Lick This Book (Idan Ben-Barak, illus by Julian Frost, A&U)
What a fun, beautifully designed and repulsive book! Its premise is humble: let’s meet some microbes. It sits between educational text and narrative picture book, following Min the microbe on a small journey from the pages of the book to various parts of the reader’s body (via an interactive element reminiscent of Herve Tullet’s Press Here) and back—befriending some tiny germy pals along the way. While mostly entertainment, a page of more scientific information at the back offers factual context. The book is very appealing; kids both at school and at home will delight in the gross elements while adults will also enjoy it (then probably give their hands a long soapy scrub afterwards!). Julian Frost’s simple cartoon microbes are cheerful creatures who just want to enjoy some dirt (if they look familiar, it’s because he animated the Australian rail safety campaign ‘Dumb Ways to Die’). They’re integrated into Linnea Rundgren’s electron microscope images: the intriguing zoomed-in textures of familiar objects. Idan Ben-Barak links the two graphic elements with a quirky sense of humour (primarily the asides of the many microbes populating each extreme close-up). The main tone is that of a jolly field guide: imagine Roger Hargreaves leading you through the microscopic world. The only thing wrong with this book is that it doesn’t go for longer.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor/writer and works at The Hobart Bookshop