Press Here written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet
This review originally ran in May of 2011 when Press Here was still a bit of a sleeper. By the time the holiday season rolled around we were selling stacks and stacks of this brilliant book. I'm running the review again for anyone who hasn't heard of Tullet's masterpiece.
Press Here by Hervé Tullet is a joy to read for a few different reasons. I need to thank Travis Jonker over at 100 Scope Notes for introducing me to this book that I have been reading at every story time for the last few weeks, usually twice because the kids ask to hear it again. This book is completely interactive - the most interactive I have seen in my 15+ years of doing story time. This is the kind of book that you want to share with people - adult or child - just to see their reaction as they read it.
The premise of Press Here is simple, so simple you will wonder why no one has thought of it before. Starting with the title, each page gives a direction to be followed and, when the direction is followed and the page is turned, it seems as though the book is responding. Pressing one yellow dot makes another dot. Gently stroking one yellow dot turns it red, then blue. Shaking the book scrambles the dots. Pressing a line of yellow dots as hard as possible seems to make the lights go out as the next page turns black with only glowing yellow dots lined up across it. Blowing on the page makes the darkness go away. I can't tell you how fun it is to read this book with a child - even if the child is a non-reader. I always make sure the listener is the one holding the book, even if I am doing the reading. They get such a kick out of it. The final page of the book ends with a yellow dot and the question, "Want to do it all over again?" to which there is usually a resounding, "Yes!" And, for those of you who know what little hands can do to a book, Press Here is printed on thick, glossy pages with two sturdy cardboard covers to grasp while following the book's instructions.
The video below doesn't quite do the book justice, but at least you can get a glimpse of the interior art work. This book is the PERFECT gift for any child age 2 - 7, maybe even higher. Also, it is the perfect gift for any Luddites you know who are currently resisting the digital age. Which brings me to the other reason I love Press Here. Even before the Nook hit the market two years ago electronic books were cutting into business at the bookstore where I work, lowering sales and causing bookseller hours to be cut. At the time, I wasn't too worried because I assumed that very few kids would have their own eReaders. Last year the release of the color Nook and the drop in price of the original Nook to $149 has meant that I am seeing lots of kids with Nooks in their hands walking around the bookstore. On top of that, the color Nook (and iPad) have some pretty cool interactive digital PICTURE books that can be read on them. As a Children's Bookseller, this does put a bit of fear into me, especially since I have seen our stock of picture books (at least half of which was so terrible the books weren't worth the paper they were printed on) reduced by over 50%. I know that I am not the first to bemoan the eventual obsolescence of the picture book, but I have to confess that more and more I find myself worrying that these portable works of art may be facing some very tough times ahead. That's why I find Press Here so amazingly wonderful and hopeful. In an age where kids are reading (or looking at) books on digital devices, Tullet has created a PAPER BOOK that reads like a digital one. I know this one book won't resuscitate this possibly dwindling part of the childhood experience, but hopefully it will remind and inform kids of the pleasure of turning a paper page versus the almost mindless act of swiping one's finger across a screen.
If Tullet's books intrigue you, you can read a review of his "The Game of" series over at Pink Me. Don't miss his supercool coloring book as well - on the pricey side, but a great gift for a creative kid.