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WORD BUILDER by Ann Whitford Paul


by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-3981-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

While the idea behind this visually dazzling effort has great potential, the execution may leave some feeling disappointed. In the world Paul and Cyrus have created, an androgynous construction worker hammers enormous letters into words, then piles the words into sentence towers that are held together with punctuation mortar. Framing organizes sentences into paragraphs, while stacked paragraphs create chapter cities. “Keep on building…until you have created…a whole world of book.” The pencil-and-digital artwork varies in perspective from extreme wide-angle to super–close-up views, maximizing the impact of the illustrations and the construction theme. However, for the purposes of teaching children about writing, a preponderance of wide-angle views might have been in order. While the text describes sentence towers and their punctuation mortar, readers never get to see a completed one. And beyond the sentence level, the buildings simply look like tall houses with a letter at the roofline. The final illustration is masterful—the view over the construction worker’s shoulder at the completed book, peopled with characters and full of action. For abstract thinkers, this could be a powerful tool. (Picture book. 7-10)