YOU CAN READ by Helaine Becker


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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This book’s title and cover, on which two kids tote heaps of books, will have librarians, teachers, and book mavens immediately reaching for it.

However, the title is a bit deceiving, as the book is not a how-to for decoding words; instead, it’s a paean to reading minus a plot. The device is a series of sentences beginning with the words “you can read…” followed by a list of various places. A nameless pale-skinned boy and brown-skinned girl demonstrate the many scenarios in which books can be read, proving you can read anywhere. Some of the locations are unremarkable, while others are fanciful: in the classroom, in the park, and under the covers will seem familiar, while in the desert, on the ocean floor, or in a rocket stretch the bounds of possibility. Some side-by-side pages depict a relationship, as when one child sits on the throne reading a book called The Time Taker while the other knocks on the locked door with legs crossed urgently, holding a copy of News Flush. Others add humor. Both a scenario in which a child reading while walking down the street results in a presumably poo-covered foot (“EEEW!”) and another that depicts the little boy in his tighty whities are calibrated to elicit giggles. The stylized digital artwork with hand lettering fills the pages, giving the illustrations a somewhat posterlike quality. The titles of what the kids are reading comment on the activities depicted. Oddly, a library is not listed as a place to read. This will pair nicely with other books about the pleasures of reading and can be used to invite a conversation with kids.

As a representative of the “reading is awesome” genre, this offers a fairly witty alternative to the often drearily earnest run of the mill. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4598-1324-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orca
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017


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