Books are more than just words and ink.
A child and their demonstrative cat (who seems to prefer watching television to reading) find more than a dozen unexpected uses for a book. Every new idea is shown in a full-page picture; sometimes even a two-page spread. “You can use it as a hat… / …or a tent for your cat. Put it under a table leg to keep it steady. (Librarians and book lovers will suck their teeth at this one, but not as much as they will when they see it used as a funnel when the child milks a cow a few pages later.) If you put a flower inside and shut your book and then stand on it for a week, you’ll have a beautiful pressed flower. It can also be used as a fly swatter (ick), a tunnel for your toy train set, or a fairy trap. Even more important, “Books can make you really clever… / …and they stay with you forever.” Willis’ brisk rhyming text has a nice phonic snap and should be accessible to early readers as well as listeners. Ross’ playful illustrations have a simplicity that nicely suits the rhymes, and, in a metafictional fillip, they show the shaggy-haired white protagonist using this very book. However, the message about the value of reading feels overshadowed by the numerous pages devoted to the use of a book as a prop.
Fun but forgettable. (Picture book. 3-6)