Young readers get to “build a book” with Japanese illustrator Kaori Takahashi’s unusually designed Knock! Knock!
It’s true that readers build this story in more ways than one, since it’s a book folded inside a tiny slipcase. Readers pull out the book and unfold the story page by page. It’s book architecture, if you will (wording the publisher likes to use). Fortunately, the way to physically, literally unfold the story is intuitive for young children. On the first “page,” a girl knocks on a door, saying “I’m home!” This unfolds to the right. She can’t find her bear and begins her search. She looks out the window, and readers immediately see that for the story to progress, the entire book must be lifted up. There, we see her knocking on a neighbor’s door, seeking her bear. Each door-knocking illustration is rendered in gray hues, yet when she enters the apartment of a neighbor, the world opens up in color, readers getting a view of various homes. The book, as we go along, climbs up and up (always folding right and up, left and up, and so on), revealing an apartment complex. Indeed, each “page” has red bricks in between.
There are surreal, delightful surprises along the way: One apartment is submerged in water, and sea creatures swim. In another, a forest grows. In one, we see a man who is hiding a Santa Claus outfit. The girl eventually finds her bear on the roof (look closely, and you’ll see a flying human in a cape!), and then the story heads down, unfolding back to its beginning. This part of the book is a series of steps, and it reads quickly. All in all, the pace works smashingly in this story, perfect for more tactile learners and children who love to build.
Be sure to knock and take a look inside. This one is a satisfying and truly inviting surprise.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.