The cartoonist and picture-book illustrator offers a chunky book of some 330 or so words, one per page, each illustrated by a cartoon.
Niemann introduces his effort by explaining that he hopes to make “the discovery of words as fun and inspiring” as that of images, which, he argues, are learned “through happenstance or playful discovery.” Many, though not all, of the double-page spreads ponder relationships. A child gazes hopefully at a cupcake on a shelf to illustrate “could” on verso, while on recto, a pair of adult hands offers the cupcake on a plate, illustrating “would.” Other relationships are more opaque or even evidently nonexistent. On the very next spread, a freaked-out face illustrates “what,” while opposite, a satisfied diner sits back smiling over a plate that contains only crumbs—evidently “good” ones. The author plays with homographs, as in one delightful spread in which a “long” dachshund dreams “long”ingly of a (very “long”) sausage. Some pictures require a beat or two to understand, as in the one of a smiling saucepan about to be covered by a similarly smiling lid—clearly made “for” it. Some words are far beyond elementary but are beautifully clear in illustration, as when a dismayed child regards a “scintilla” of ice cream (represented by an atom falling into a cone), while opposite, a figure marvels at the “Brobdingnagian” ice cream cone that dwarfs skyscrapers.
Combining graphic wit and wordplay, Niemann delivers a joyful package. (index, parts of speech) (Picture book. 5 & up)