This whimsical ode to the codex is an endorsement both of reading and of what has been coined the “thingyness” of books—and it avoids the fatal, superior tone that concludes Lane Smith’s similarly themed, otherwise-ingenious It’s a Book.
The opening double-page spread sets a humorous tone: Hats, human heads and a pair of rabbit ears reveal readers behind a long, bleeding-off-the-page line of colorful, many-sized, open books. The recto bears the simple sentence, “A book is to read.” The next page hastens to explain that “[a] book is paper,” lest anyone should consider other options. Even a page devoted to clandestine bedroom reading ignores possible advantages of e-books. Later, a fanciful, double-page spread advises people to use books in order to traverse “your room without touching the floor”: A pajama-clad girl flees alligators as she hops from book to book. (“You should only use your biggest, worst books for this game.”) Pronouncements range from obvious to funny to downright bizarre, all accompanied by stylized, lighthearted ink-and-watercolor artwork. The one disappointment in the art is a lack of cultural diversity in the numerous people and in the settings—only a few of these avid readers appear to be anything other than Caucasian; this partly diminishes the text’s theme of books as universally beloved objects.
The diminutive size—approximately 5 inches by 7 inches—negates group use but makes this perfect for a child on a lap or as a stocking stuffer for older bibliophiles. (Picture book. 4-9)