It’s a mouse. It’s a jackass. It’s a monkey. It’s a book…
And so begins a story timely written for today’s digital age. Lane Smith’s latest work of art, It’s a Book, is a 32-page picture book that offers a delightful read with underlying wit and charm. The idea of traditional reading amid – or, perhaps, in spite of – technological advances resonates throughout the book.
What do you have there? – It’s a book.
Minimalist is how I would describe It’s a Book. It caters to children’s short attention span and their dire need for entertainment. Everything about it is simple and straightforward – the plot, the characters, and even the text. Moreover, the book tickles the funny bones of both kids and adults. It’s funny because it IS funny, and it’s funny because it is sarcastic – Lane Smith unveils the main point of the story in the end, through (surprise, surprise) the mouse, which has always been depicted in fables as the clever one.
I have always loved Lane Smith’s artworks, and his art in this book made me love his characters more. I am not one to give a detailed description of the style that he used in the book. I am, however, childlike enough to tell you that the artwork in the book has the texture of crayons and oil pastels. Also, I couldn’t stop myself from getting so giddy over his characters’ body language and facial expressions. I’m sure children would find them just as adorable. (I can picture readers laughing at the jackass – no pun intended – although, honestly, I find the monkey far more entertaining.)
Speaking of jackass, the final remark made by the mouse at the end may come as a shock to adults (parents and educators alike) considering it’s a picture book for children. (Imagine turning the last page and reading the words, it’s a book jackass.) We forget, of course, that we are looking at it in the perspective of an adult – one who has acquired enough knowledge to understand the pun in that statement. This is why, I think, the title page of the book (see first excerpt above) plays a very crucial role. Because it introduces children to the characters in the book, it helps them understand that the jackass in the last part was referring to the animal.
How do you scroll down? – I don’t. I turn the page. It’s a book.
My favorite companion since I was a little girl was a book. When I was six, I remember finishing one-third of my Reading and Phonics book before my first grade classes had begun. In middle school, I was a Nancy Drew fan, a Sweet Valley High follower, and a Goosebumps collector. In high school, the library became my second home. ‘Hoarding’ books was a favorite thing in college. To this day, I drool every time I visit a bookstore.
I love books so much that I wasn’t aware of the existence of Amazon’s Kindle at the time. I didn’t know such technology existed until Barnes & Noble introduced its Nook. A fellow bibliophile once asked me if I had any plans of getting an eBook reader. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, I told her I wasn’t interested. I’m not tech-savvy so I can only care less about whatever new technology is out there. It is convenient, but not necessary – at least in the case of the eBooks.
Besides, don’t eBooks go against the idea of a bookworm? Bibliophiles feed on books as if their lives depended on them. There is nothing more pleasurable to a book-lover like me than flipping pages, anxiously anticipating the turn of events in the story. (Oh, I once read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the computer. Imagine the torture my eyes had to endure!)
Does it need a password? – No. – Need a screen name? – No. It’s a book.
My aunt thinks that kids nowadays are lucky to have virtual learning tools. To some extent, I agree with her. However, the traditional part of me hopes that parents would still find time to grab a book from the shelf and read the story to and with their child.
Lane Smith’s It’s a Book is not a call of desperation. Rather, it makes a bold statement – a brave declaration – on the value of books to society. Technology gets outdated over time. Books are books, no matter how many decades have gone by. It’s a Book is a charming read, and it definitely deserves a spot in your bookshelf.
Side note: I find it interesting how Lane Smith made a reference in the book to people getting so comfortable with text language that they are no longer capable of spelling words properly. Case in point – when the jackass tried to shorten an excerpt from Treasure Island to characters that do not even constitute a word. (Insert: smiley)
“TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book.” – Author Unknown
**Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing us a review copy of this book. 🙂