Grunells, George. BITE THIS. St. George, MO; Disappointing Books, 2016. 31 2/3 pp., Hardcover, $13.99 (Kindle™, $1.74).
On the whole, we like interactive books at The Flying News. They’re clever, they don’t cost much, and, unlike doughnuts, they don’t get moldy when you leave them on the shelf for a couple of years.1 The genre, if you can call it that, seems to have begun with Herve Tullet’s Press Here,2 which was followed by a number of sequels, imitations, and a few3 truly original efforts.
Much as we like this sort of book in general, we fear that the book under review means the end for interactive books, even as it solves one of the biggest problems of the book selling industry. What problem? The fact that books can last decades, and even centuries. Automobile and computer manufacturers have solved this problem in their respective fields by forcing consumers to upgrade, and by making sure that their products have a half-life of about three weeks. With books, it’s been a little bit more difficult. Books don’t have gaskets, bearings, hard drives, or other parts that crash, die, or wear out. They also don’t (generally) induce the kind of wrath that leads irate motorists and computer users to lash out and smash fenders, monitors, keyboards, etc. But the child who dutifully follows the instructions in Bite This will end up destroying the book after one ‘reading’ and then asking his parents for another copy. We predict that the sales will be enormous—what parent could refuse his child’s requests for a book, and what child could fail to find enjoyment in the violent destruction detailed in the pages of Bite This!
And why does Bite This mean the end of interactive books? Because it’s just too violent! Beginning with the teeth marks effected by the title instruction, the book draws the hapless child into a vortex of destruction, climaxing in stomping on the book, ripping it up, and dousing it with lighter fluid, before setting it on fire and asking his parents for a brand new copy. We predict that parents will see their children’s behavior becoming increasingly aggressive after a few readings of this book, and we think it possible that local governments and fire departments may even attempt to ban reading altogether.
And of course, even if the Kindle™ edition is cheaper, you really don’t want your children using your electronics to view this kind of book.
“Hippopotamus open mouth,” by Charlesjsharp CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.