It’s a Book: A Picture Book Review

It's a Book by Lane SmithIs it wrong that I liked the book trailer for It’s a Book (2010) by Lane Smith more than I enjoyed the actual book? If it is, I don’t want to be right.

What happens when a monkey* sits down with his copy of Treasure Island and a donkey** sits down with his laptop? Well, let’s just say the book might not do as much, but it sure has a lot of staying power.

It’s a Book has a great message. In snappy text and fun illustrations, it shows all the fun a book can be. And yet . . .

There is something very meta about discussing the merits of a book in a book format. There is also the issue that anyone who really needs to know how great books are (or show their children how great they are) is not going to be reading It’s a Book in the first place. I could see this being a fun read aloud but only in a nose-thumbing kind of way among people/children who are already readers. Honestly, the trailer was more effective as a medium and I’d love to see something like it being adopted by ALA to compliment their READ posters.

There’s also the issue of the donkey. The book introduces him as a jackass and ends with a mouse reminding him, “It’s a book jackass.” And that’s fine because it’s a legitimate term for donkeys. But it’s also a language issue*** and it just feels awkward and superfluous in the story.

I’m not really sure what Smith wanted to accomplish with It’s a Book or what it actually will accomplish. It’s an interesting idea and the book trailer is wonderful in its own right(do watch it!). Oddly as an actual book this one falls short.

*I feel really strongly that what we have here is a gorilla and it’s been driving me nuts since I first saw the book that he is called a monkey throughout.

**Smith actually calls the donkey a “jackass” from the get-go, not I think in a negative way but just in a “jackass is another name for a donkey” kind of way, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

***I’m kind of a prude when it comes to bad language, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable reading this book to anyone. Some reviews have said it’s snarky or obnoxious, I wasn’t feeling that but it was . . . a really weird element to include.

*I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher*

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