Books! illus. by John Alcorn. 42p. AMMO. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623260200. LC 2013935433.
K-Gr 3—McCain's musings regarding the nature of books were originally published in London in 1962, and for modern audiences, some of his assertions may seem dated. McCain ponders the basic parts ("inside" and "outside") and what books are about. This leads to long lists of titles and subjects with which children may not be familiar (Billy Bunter, Swallows & Amazons, El Greco). Writing about types of books, words, punctuation, and fonts brings on similar enumerations. Occasional Briticisms, e.g., "full stop" for "period," are culturally interesting. While some of the interactivity and images would be mildly diverting to children, the title is neither funny nor fascinating enough in terms of narrative possibilities to hold youngsters' attention for the duration. There is an underlying assumption that all books have words: "Did you ever see a book without a word? Words are to help you understand books." This book has a few too many words, and some of the ideas are repetitive. Rendered in neon intensity, Alcorn's magenta and yellow watercolors; surreal images, such as a dog with a human head; and an abundance of broadside graphics (pointing hands, scrollwork) and fonts have the feel of a sketch from the TV show Laugh-In. Possibly the audience is the same-adults who enjoy the psychedelic aesthetic and typography. Children would be better served by Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man (Viking, 1992). Purchase for large, retrospective collections.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

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