Gotcha!: A Funny Fairy Tale Hide-and-Seek by Clotilde Perrin

Gotcha!: A Funny Fairy Tale Hide-and-Seek by Clotilde Perrin, translated by Daniel Hahn. Gecko Press, 2022. 9781776574698

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? The narrator speaks directly to the reader, warning of prowling beasts! To survive the three monsters, the reader is invited to hide in three fairytale homes: the Three Little Pigs’ brick house, Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house, and Sleeping Beauty’s thorny vine-covered castle. These fairytale scenes include multilayered pages with cutouts and flaps. A child dressed in a blue bear costume hides in each house. The monsters are smelly, flatulent creatures, which are sure to delight young readers with a love for gross characters.

This story is translated from French and includes a reference to a French fairytale “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” that may be a new title for American readers. The book includes some eerie elements reminiscent of fairytales collected by the Brothers Grimm, like Wolfskin Soup and Hansel suspended in a cage. The darker parts in the story make it better for older children who are familiar with the original fairytales. There is a book shelf with fairytales, made-up books warning the reader, like “Scram!”, and adult horror books, like one by Stephen King (perhaps as an Easter egg for parents).

Anything you didn’t like about it? The hide-and-seek element is made up of flaps set into the page making them difficult to open, particularly for the young audience. The monster pages lack the nuisance of the fairytale house scenes with no hidden flaps or witty asides about the monsters. The opening quote, “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage,” from Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, sets an expectation of a subversive feminist story and fails to meet it.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Gotcha! is a book for readers age 5+ that crave spooky stories. The layered pages of each fairytale house, the hidden child, and the small flaps will appeal to fans of the Ologies series (Dragonology, Fairyopolis, etc).

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools with large fairytale collections, although because it is oversized and has flaps it may be better suited to a family’s at-home collection.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Colleen Stewart, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: March 23, 2023

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