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!