21 April 2008
I love it when authors expand the possibilities of the picture book. And so does my daughter--at least in this case. Her current favorite is Nick Bruel's Who is Melvin Bubble? Before the book even starts, the reader spies a letter written to the author by a little boy named Jimmy, who is requesting that someone write a book about his best friend, Melvin. Through a series of interviews with key figures in Melvin Bubble's life, Bruel makes an attempt to discover just who Melvin Bubble is, thus writing the wished for book. It's a clever premise, the picture book version of a self-referencing mockumentary. There are no throw-away details, so even though the book could seem gimmicky, it is actually a tight narrative that achieves the dual goals of (1)granting Jimmy's wish and (2)effectively introducing the reader to Melvin Bubble. And all the different characters makes for a fun read-aloud. It will be a sad day when Mr. Bubble has to go back to the library.