A rhymed text explores the imaginary places where a book can transport a reader.
“It has pages and pictures, / a cover, it’s true, / even words and a writer— / and readers like you. / It can do anything / that you want it to do. / But this is not a book. // Because books do not have wings.” All kinds of magical things can be found in the pages of this not-a-book. Readers whirl up a complicated agglomeration of gears into the clouds to clockwork cities and a pirate ship, as the text continues his protestations that it is not a book. Text notwithstanding, it’s the artwork that evokes the imagination and captures the eye as two children, one dark-skinned with short, black, curly hair and the other fair-skinned with long, blond hair, experience various adventures. The illustrations blend the quirkiness of Henrik Drescher with the detailing of Graeme Base in vivid colors and intriguing images. The rhymes tend to get in the way of the images they are describing, however. “This, here, is a submarine, / a never-look-back, pretend-it machine, / to explore the depths / of the vast marine / with urchins, seaweed, / and schools of sardines. / Come closer, dear reader, / and see the unseen— / this thing that’s not a book.” The repetition of the title phrase feels both precious and monotonous, muddying the conceit—which stands a very good chance of actually confusing readers.
Overall, this misses the mark and won’t wing its way to success. (Picture book. 5-7)