The Scared Book (Debra Tidball, illus by Kim Siew, Lothian)
The Scared Book is, as its title suggests, about a frightened book that’s been infiltrated by a variety of monsters on its pages and begs for help from the reader to scare them away. Debra Tidball keeps the instructions simple enough for pre-schoolers to join in the action: ‘There’s a tingle in my spine/can you scratch it for me?’, ‘Giant butterflies are tickling my insides! Please blow them away’ and ‘Argh monsters!/Quick, flick them away!’. The range of action words in the book—which also include ‘blow’, ‘shake’, ‘trace’, ‘fan’ and ‘rub’—are good for vocabulary-building and the ending offers readers a sense of achievement, having chased all the monsters away. This is a book that will be read over and over once the little ones understand what they have to do. The monsters themselves are brightly coloured with stripes and spots and many eyes, but Kim Siew’s illustrations are more weird than genuinely scary. There’s often a large expanse of white space around the pictures and text, so despite all the marauding creatures the book doesn’t feel too cluttered. Reminiscent of Herve Tullet’s Press Here, this interactive book is a fun reading experience that even reluctant readers won’t be able to resist.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue