A skeptic might not think that the Pulitzer Prize winner who made a graphic novel about Auschwitz could also write and draw for the not-quite-literate set-but rest assured, this comic gem of a picture book demonstrates Spiegelman's ability to conquer his audience, no matter its constituents. Sticking to his well-developed aesthetic, Spiegelman introduces a bunny hero, Jack, who receives a jack-in-the-box. This jack-in-the-box can talk, and its appearance registers somewhere between goofy and clownlike sinister (see its crocodilian upper teeth); its features gain extra oomph by virtue of being the only ones in a spread to receive high-contrast color treatment. With Jack's parents out of the room, the toy performs Cat-in-the-Hat/Marx Brothers-like slapstick tricks timed to perfection. This book choreographs jokes with an exquisite understanding of climax and denouement. As with the other books from this publisher, the design is sophisticated, making elegant use of panels, an easy-to-handle small format and subtle, low-contrast hues. That the vocabulary and the matchup of dialogue balloons to the action are geared to beginning readers is icing on the cake. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jack and the Box: Toon Books Level 1by Art Spiegelman
Jack just got a new toy. Is it a silly toy, a scary toy... or something else entirely?
A mischievous, easy-to-read comic story similar in tone and audience to The Cat in the Hat . Jack receives a jack-in-the-box as a present. Its manically entertaining occupant, Zack, keeps its owner guessing. Fortunately, when the fun gets out of hand, Zack and his friend Mack save Jack by wanting to trade the lamp they broke for a brand-new one, produced from inside the box. While the story is wacky, the cartoon artwork will appeal to a broad range of lower-level readers. True to its comic-strip roots, without the clutter that some children have a hard time reading, this title is a surefire hit.-Sarah Provence, Churchill Road Elementary School, McLean, VA
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