I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Scott Magoon
My Other Favorite Picture Book of 2016
Although no eating takes place in I Will Not Eat You, it is an absolutely delicious picture book that you will gobble up, over and over. Written by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Scott Magoon, the title and cover alone should sell this book, but the story and accompanying illustrations inside, including the piquant twist at the end, are worth every penny. See the end of this review for the circumstances that prompted me to buy this I Will Not Eat You.*
I Will Not Eat You begins, "Theodore lived in a cave. It was a quiet cave, and that's the way he liked it." When a bird flaps and sqwuaks infront of his cave, he wonders if the bird wants to be eaten. But Theodore is not hungry. A wolf joggs up to the cave and howls. "Perhaps I should eat it?" Theodore wonders. A tiger growls and growls at the mouth of the cave, but Theodore is not hungry.
Finally, a boy comes galloping up to the cave, roaring at Theodore. "Seriously?" Theodore thinks to himself. He is getting hungry. Theodore warns the boy, but the boy pokes him anyway. And the chase is on! Part of the delicious fun of reading I Will Not Eat you is the anticipation, waiting to find out just what kind of creature Theodore is. I pause on the page above and let the kids make a guess and there is always a gasp or two when they discover Theodore's identity.
Magoon's chase illustrations are especially magnificent, calling to mind Mary Blair and Maurice Sendak, as well as medieval tapestries. The black background of the chase pages add to the excitement and enchantment. I am a fan of Magoon's illustrations and it's exciting to see his style evolve.
*It is rare that I buy a picture book these days, but this was a special circumstance. One morning I was showing students book trailers when I Will Not Eat You popped up. A first grader named Theodore was entranced and made me play it again and again and asked me to read him the book. I had to explain that I didn't have it but promised to keep an eye out for it, thinking I might get a review copy since I had yet to receive my libary book budget. Theodore kept asking and I finally caved and bought a copy. I ended up reading it over and over, to kindergarteners through fourth graders.