Author & Illustrator: Timothy Young
I absolutely LOVE metafiction*! While I haven’t yet had much experience writing metafictional picture books myself, I’m always excited to read new ones. My favourites include Tom Fletcher’s There’s a Dragon in Your Book, many offerings by Richard Byrne, such as This Book is Out of Control, and basically everything ever created by Hervé Tullet.
I was therefore excited when Schiffer Publishing sent me an advance copy of Timothy Young’s latest picture book, entitled (yes, really): Untitled. Isn’t that a great title? Well, I think so.
The book is narrated by two bored characters who are fed up with their illustrator. Carlos is a coatimundi and Ignatz morphs early on from a porcupine into a capybara, commenting resignedly that maybe the illustrator “got tired of drawing all the quills.”
The story revolves around the pair imagining the kinds of situation they would like the illustrator to draw them in, such as the Wild West, and deep under the ocean. But of course, nothing interesting will actually happen… Or will it? Read the book to find out and discover the hilarious twist!
Untitled is packed with so much subtle and ingenious humour. The best page, in my view, is when the characters are looking at various books, wishing they could be drawn by one of those illustrators instead of their own. If you’re familiar with many picture books, you’ll delight like I did in spotting a variety of well-known ones, from classics such as Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are to recent gems like Debbi Ridpath Ohi’s I’m Bored – and they’ve all had their covers and titles cleverly altered to feature our heroes.
Contrary to the opinion of Ignatz and Carlos, the illustrations in this book are fantastic. While consistency would normally be extremely important in a picture book, this unique story makes effective use of varying styles to portray the different situations that the characters imagine themselves in. I’d highly recommend Untitled for kids (and adults!) of all ages!
You can get hold of a copy of this book by clicking one of the links below!
Untitled will be released on 28th May 2019. Many thanks to Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review!
*If you’re not familiar with the term “metafiction”, it’s essentially when characters or the narrator break out of their roles to address the reader, maybe even encouraging them to take part in the action in some way. This is not to be confused with picture books that are interactive in the sense of having real buttons to press or flaps to open or tabs to pull. In the case of metafictional picture books, you simply imagine that you are interacting with the goings on in the story.