It’s a Book by Lane Smith, (2010) Walker Books. ISBN 9781921720147
The title of this book sums it up well; this is the story of a monkey trying to explain to his friend the jackass exactly what a book is. The jackass however can’t seem to comprehend why the rectangular thing that monkey is so interested in and which is about the same size as his own laptop doesn’t need a password, has no sound effects, doesn’t allow texting and doesn’t need to be plugged in to be recharged. Why does his friend the monkey seem so fascinated by it?
The conversation between the two friends with the growing exasperation by the monkey and the occasional interjection by the mouse, is cleverly shown in font style and size as well as the illustrations. The simple coloured paint and crayon look of the illustrations and the story that is unfolding is reinforced with lots of white or plain coloured space.
The use of the clock behind the double page spread where the jackass begins to read this new thing -the book- on his own, showing just how time can go quickly when one gets involved in the pleasure of reading a book on your own is a simple but very clever device.
I also loved the close up of the monkey’s face when he realises he won’t get his book back from the converted jackass.
And I laughed out loud when I turned the last page and realised that the monkey’s friend still didn’t quite get why a book is so great.
What does creator Lane Smith have to say about his latest book? (Thanks to Walker Books for this)
Q: Some people are interpreting IT’S A BOOK as anti-technology, but is it that cut-and-dry?
Don’t you use computers as part of your artistic process?
Yes, I think technology is wonderful. I work in Photoshop and love my iPod and iPhone and any number of gadgets, but at the same time you can’t beat running your finger along a shelf of books, picking out a title, holding it in your hands, then sitting under the shade of a tree, just you and a book.
Q: How did the notion for IT’S A BOOK come to you? How did the characters first appear to you in your imagination?
Today’s kids are so smart and tech savvy. I see the little guys on their laptops and I’m
blown away. I’m sure in the future everything will be digital and kids will rarely encounter
a traditional book. I thought this conflict would make a funny premise for a picture book.
I originally envisioned the lead character as a goofy-looking kid, but I thought that might
be perceived as making fun of kids so I took a cue from Aesop and made the characters
animals.monkey with a book and an inquisitive jackass armed with an electronic device. The jackass is mystified by the monkey’s book and asks what it is.
“It’s a book,” replies Monkey.
“Can it text?” Jackass queries.
By the end, the jackass learns the joys of the printed page (although he still
can’t quite grasp how the book “works”). And along the way, IT’S A BOOK
delivers what USA Today’s “Pop Candy” calls “the best last line ever written in
the history of children’s literature.”
To get a taste of the book for yourself before running out to buy it for yourself, um, I mean for the children in your life, go to the Youtube clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhUNyzYzBX0
It’s a Book by Lane Smith, (2010) Walker Books. More »