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Children's Literature @ NYPL

Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?


At the Webster Branch, we recently put up a display with all of the books covered in brown paper. Above it there is a sign that reads: “Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?” The rules are if you unwrap a book—based on the short description taped to it—you must check it out. Even if you’ve read it before, or if you think you won’t like it. Take it home, give it a shot. Don’t judge it by its cover alone!

One of the first books to go out, and one that sparked a lot of discussion, was labeled “3,856 stories. One book.” It was fun to listen to all of the incredulous comments: “That’s impossible!” “It’s not very big.” and most often (accompanied by a puzzled look) “Huh?”

The secret book in question is Meanwhile by Jason Shiga. It’s an old school "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, in graphic novel format, with about five thousand more twists and turns. It begins simply enough, with little Jimmy choosing an ice cream flavor—chocolate or vanilla. But once you choose, you don’t just skip to the next designated page; you follow a color coded line, up, down, across, and off the page onto a tab, which shows you which section of the book is next. Circuitous plots of hidden codes, mind reading, time travel and possible world destruction aside, following the darn line alone is more mental exercise than I’ve had in a long time.

The girl who unwrapped Meanwhile chose it because she was literally excited by the prospect of reading 3,856 stories. She is a very dedicated library user. When she saw the comic drawings, her face dropped. I explained how the book worked and told her it’s not a book I would normally read either. But I did. And it’s awesome.

She came into the library a few days ago, grinning. She was bound and determined to follow every single thread. She also told me that if I wrap it up again when she brings it back, I should change the tag to: “A book you will throw against the wall many times.”

I can’t argue with that.

Jason Shiga also has a video that describes how to make your own interactive comic. Give it a try!


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What a cute idea!!

A Great Concept But ...

I have to admit that after trying to follow those lines for about 15 minutes, smoke started coming out of my ears and I had to put the book down. This was a really nice display idea, BTW. Can you tell us about some more books you used, and what "teasers" you used to entice your readers?

I wish I would have written them down

Some of them were: "Read this you must" for the Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Angleberger (I was going to make an origami yoda to stick on too, but the book was taken before that happened); "A fluffy parrot that smells like honey!" for Kakapo Rescue by Montgomery; a fun, random animal fact for Ubiquitous by Sidman; "Sticky notes and brain freeze" for Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Silberberg (I have to change that one, it's not working); and "Wild adventure story" for Wild River by Petersen.


Will this be done at other branches also?

Loving this idea! Would love

Loving this idea! Would love to try this on some of my teens who are stuck on one genre.

Love it

I'm doing something similar at my library, Blind Date with a Book. I wrapped a bunch of books in brown paper and decorated with hearts. We're asking patrons to check them out and return with a review of their "date".

I love it

That is both awesome and adorable.

WOW! I am definitely copying

WOW! I am definitely copying this idea--with the Valentine's Day Blind Date bent. Fun fun fun

What a fantastic idea! Thank

What a fantastic idea! Thank you, I've added to my to-do list for my book club kids and other young library patrons.

Do you judge a book by it's cover?

I would love to do this with my Bible, and have the line "jealousy, sex, murder and greed all before page 10" and see how many people would check it out

I love this idea. I am

I love this idea. I am definitely going to use it. I am going to save the "Blind Date" idea for next February.

Easter Eggs

Another idea would be to have a basket of plastic Easter eggs with book titles inside. The kids could pick an egg and then check out that book. I think I'll try that this year. There is still almost a month until Easter to get it together.

so fun!

We aren't allowed to celebrate Easter per se, but I am definitely going to make a hen and put her on a nest of eggs, with titles inside. What a fantastic idea!

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