From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2–4—If you live inside a book, then a reader can follow your every word and deed—"EEK!"—as the heroine in this multilayered fantasy soon discovers. Every one of her family members, including the pets, has a story: dad is a clown, mom a firefighter, brother an astronaut. The goldfish seeks the sea while the dog is off to investigate odors. Only the girl is without a story, and she proceeds to travel through fairy tales, mysteries, adventure yarns, and historical novels in search of one. Each person and creature she encounters offers the pigtailed child in striped socks a story, but none suits her until she comes up with one of her very own. Humorous dialogue appears in parallelogram-shaped boxes. Aerial views dominate as different guides, one a Sherlock Holmes look-alike, lead the girl on her search. While young children may have difficulty following the many twists of this story, they will certainly enjoy some of the jokes and the humorous illustrations. They may also challenge themselves to identify some of the fairy tales and stories in which the girl becomes involved. And the starring role given to writing will appeal to their teachers.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
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*Starred Review* Metafiction for the picture-book set? In Gerstein’s able hands, this charming story follows a young girl and her family who live in a book (when it’s closed they sleep, when it’s open they rise), though she doesn’t know what kind of story her book is. Compositions are drawn as if the viewer were looking down on characters and scenes with the page as the ground; at one point the girl looks up only to be scared witless by your face peering down at her. She dashes through spreads that take her into nursery rhymes, on the trail of a mystery, across pirate waters, and even into outer space before she ultimately decides to write her own story, which is, of course, this story. Akin to David Wiesner’s Caldecott Medal book, The Three Pigs (2001), though not as complex, children might find some of the finer points of the concept to be challenging; but the conceit is executed with such cleverness and gentleness that slightly older readers who know a few tricks about picture book conventions and don’t mind flexing their comprehensive abilities a bit will gather a deeper awareness for the art of reading and an appreciation for the possibilities and openness of storytelling. The little girl’s quest is a terrifically sweet and humorous one, and while it rewards deeper reading, it certainly doesn’t live by it. Grades K-3. --Ian Chipman