by Remy Charlip
The Excitement in a well written book happens from word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter.
But usually the turning from page to page is incidental, and in a long book a bother. It doesn’t matter if something happens on page 9 or 289.
While reading a book, I sometimes wish I didn’t have to hold it up, it gets so heavy, and I fantasize a sea of type automatically unrolling, one word in focus at a time, at just the right speed, on a moving screen or scroll.
A scroll, or long paper with accordion pleats or separate sheets in a portfolio are all books of a sort. But a book, as we refer to it today, has distinct physical properties, just as painting, sculpture, film, and other art forms have their distinct physical properties
A book is a series of pages held together at one edge, and these pages can be moved on their hinges like a swinging door. They could also be half-doors, doors with windows, double doors, like fold-outs, doors with attachments, pop-ups, textures or moving parts, and shaped doors.
Of course if a door has something completely different behind it, it is much more exciting. The element of delight and surprise is helped by the physical power we feel in our own hands when we move that page or door to reveal a change in everything that has gone before, in time, place, or character.
A thrilling picture book not only makes beautiful single images or sequential images, but also allows us to become aware of a book’s unique physical structure, by bringing our attention, once again, to that momentous moment: the turning of the page.