Review Blog

Oct 06 2010

It's a book by Lane Smith

cover image

Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 9781921720147.
(Age: Picture book for older readers) Recommended.
It's a book is a clever, fun look at the power of the book in the digital age. Monkey is comfortably seated in a big lounge chair, engrossed in his book. Along comes Jackass, carrying a laptop. He wants to know what he has and Monkey replies 'It's a book'. Jackass wants to know if it can blog or tweet, has a mouse or can play games, but Monkey just calmly retorts, 'It's a book.' When Monkey reads out an exciting section with Long John Silver unsheathing his cutlass, Jackass can't resist reading it and the hours pass by quietly. Jackass refuses to give the book back to Monkey so he goes off to the library, assuring Jackass that the book doesn't need charging up.
Lane Smith's cartoon-like characters are amusing and each personality comes through vividly. Mouse is very quiet and unassuming, Jackass is fidgety and argumentative until he become immersed in the book, and Bear is calm and confident. Pastel shades make a beautiful backdrop to the story.
Lovers of print books everywhere will be cheering about the advantages of the book that Lane Smith so cleverly lists. Teachers could have a lot of fun discussing the benefits of a print book in comparison to books on e-readers or computers and even list more of their own. Its positive reference to libraries will be sure to please all the librarians out there.
The word 'jackass' could offend, according to some comments I've read, but I devoured the story simply the way it was presented. A dictionary definition says, 'Jackass is a male ass or donkey, a foolish or stupid person, another name for kookaburra'. People could always substitute the word 'donkey' when reading aloud to a younger audience, but I prefer the original!
A book trailer is available, as well as a teacher's guide.
Pat Pledger

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