HELP! WE NEED A TITLE! by Hervé Tullet

By now, I hope that everyone reading my reviews has had the chance to enjoy Hervé Tullet's fantastic, innovative, very fun to read picture book PRESS HERE. I had the happy coincidence of having a copy of Tullet's newest book, HELP! WE NEED A TITLE! with me for my last librarian substitute gig, just after PRESS HERE won the   California Young Reader Medal. Every year, California students, with the help of their school librarians, nominate books published in the last four years in four different categories. CYRM is a program sponsored by four different organizations comprised of teachers, librarians and reading specialists and, having been in a few school libraries, I can tell you that the kids love the reading and voting process. They were very excited to have me read HELP! WE NEED A TITLE!, especially because Tullet playfully references PRESS HERE in his new book.

The premise of HELP! WE NEED A TITLE! breaks down the fourth wall when the reader opens up this unfinished book, surprising the characters inside. Not sure what to do, the characters try to give the reader what they want, from a story to a nice landscape to a bad guy. 

When these ideas fail, they realize that they probably need an author and they call for one, as loudly as they can. Happily, Tullet hears his characters and opens the door to his studio, inviting them (and the reader) inside, where his story is on the drafting table - and a copy of PRESS HERE is on the bookshelf, along with Tullet's other books. As I read this book repeatedly to classes ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, over and over, the kids were surprised and excited to see Tullet himself pop up in the story. This is something that almost never happens in a picture book, making HELP! WE NEED A TITLE! a great example of how picture books are created and how a story is made. 

Tullet trties to appease his characerts (and readers) by giving them a quick, mostly unsatisfying version of their story to the vociferous complaints of the characters. Tullet tells them that they can basically take a hike if they don't like it. Then, he asks readers to turn off the light (by pressing HERE) as they leave the book, and to please tell other readers NOT TO CHOOSE this book because it's just not done.

Really, though, just like PRESS HERE, this isn't the kind of book that is well served by a written review. Happily, as with PRESS HERE, Tullet has made a very entertaining book trailer that, like his books, is INTERACTIVE! You get to choose to learn about more about Tullet or hear him read the book, which is priceless. Because of that, I included that video as well...

Source: Review Copy

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