It’s a Book…but who’s the intended audience?

September 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

It’s a Book written and illustrated by Lane Smith, book design by Molly Leach; published by Roaring  Book Press, New York, 2010.

I’ll try something new.  Rather than summarize the book, I’m going to let you watch the book trailer that Macmillan Children’s posted on YouTube.

Looks like an interesting story to share with the youngsters who spend too much time online or in front of the TV or behind a gaming console.  Or is it?  Will the early elementary school set really get the references?  Mm, probably not.  Are they already familiar with the printed book format?  At that age, definitely so; I’m sure their teachers read to them daily and the school librarians read to them weekly and many parents still take their youngsters to the public libraries for story times.  But all picture books are for kids, right?

No!  The first clue I got that this might be for older kids (OK, adults) was the rusty dark orange end pages; not a primary color, not a vibrant color, no print, no pattern.  Then the second clue was major: The title page introduces us to the cast of characters with labels over the illustrations of a mouse (“It’s a mouse.”), a donkey (“It’s a jackass.”), and a monkey (“It’s a monkey.”).  Guess which one is the tech-savvy, print illiterate one?  But the payoff comes on the last page.  I won’t ruin the surprise.  However, I read this one aloud to my hubby and two kids, and while they enjoyed my voice characterizations, they rolled with laughter when I closed the cover.  Too much for pre-K or early elementary?  That’s up to each family to decide.

The illustrations are charming.  The use of different fonts to indicate which character is speaking is clever and lends itself to buddy reading with older kids.  I chuckled when I noticed that the donkey’s font was eerily similar to Verdana, Microsoft’s sans serif font for computer applications.  Donkey’s font is also in a shade of blue that bears a striking resemblance to said computer giant’s corporate identity color palette.  On the other hand, Monkey’s font is a tried-and-true serif font, a riff on Times New Roman or an old typewriter font.  It is in the same shade of rusty dark orange as the end pages.  Again, older readers will eventually get the inside joke.

How would I use this book?  Well, my first thought was to recommend it to middle and high school English teachers.  What a hoot to pull this one out on the first day of classes!  Then I thought, I’d like this one in my own collection, so wouldn’t other librarians and literati enjoy it as well?  But what to do with it in the library….


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a librarian's library of plans & resources for storytimes, programs & readers' advisory
Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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