You know what to do. When a wide-eyed girl looks right at you and says, “Go!” you keep your eyes open as long as you can. As readers turn the page in Tom Booth’s Don’t Blink!, his comical debut as author and illustrator, a little red bird flies in and asks the girl what she’s doing. If any readers are still a little uncertain about what is transpiring, the girl acknowledges that she’s having a staring contest. And when the bird asks with whom, the girls points right at the reader and confirms, “This kid. Yes, you!”
Eager to participate, the bird joins in the staring contest. Soon a fox, an alligator and a monkey are in on the action as well. After the monkey yells “STARING CONTEST!” the participants include a porcupine, a gorilla, an elephant and even more wild animals. Just like the girl, all the animals—rendered in traditional and digital techniques—add to the amusement with big eyes that seem ideal for a staring contest.
As readers begin to see the girl’s and animals’ eyes grow weary, they’ll realize how difficult it is to never blink. Children who have kept their eyes open will also notice a giant tortoise who crawls closer and closer, bit by bit. But will he make the staring contest in time? Metafiction fans of Hervé Tullet, Jon Klassen and Mo Willems will enjoy another story that amusingly invites readers to become part of the fun.