Smith (Madam President) addresses e-literacy in his irreverent style, casting a donkey in the role of digital junkie and a gorilla as a literary type. The donkey fiddles with a laptop while the gorilla holds a novel. "What do you have there?" asks the techie, whose words are printed in ice blue, sans serif letters suggestive of a chat room. "It's a book," the ape answers, in a stately orange serif font. The donkey tests the gorilla's patience: "Can it text? Tweet? Wi-Fi?" (When he asks, "Where's your mouse?" a real one pops from beneath the gorilla's porkpie hat.) After the gorilla hands over Treasure Island, the donkey gripes, "Too many letters," and converts the scene to emoticons before getting hooked on the story. "I'll charge it up when I'm done!" he promises, at which the mouse squeaks, "It's a book, jackass." This smart-aleck retort, arguably justified because the donkey is a jackass in any sense of the word, urges readers to side with the scholarly gorilla. Meanwhile, Smith has the best of both worlds: his stylish drawings, sleek typography, and kid-friendly humor combine old media and new. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)
This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages.
This title has Common Core connections.
I do love this book.” The New Yorker magazine's, Book Bench blog
“Those of us for whom books are a faith in themselves who find the notion that pixels, however ordered, could be any kind of substitute for the experience of reading in a chair with the strange thing spread open on our lap will love this book. Though it will surely draw a laugh from kids, it will give even more pleasure to parents who have been trying to make loudly the point that Smith's book makes softly: that the virtues of a book are independent of any bells, whistles or animation it might be made to contain. . . . For in trying to make the case for books to our kids, exactly the case we want to make is not that they can compete with the virtues of computer or screens, but that they do something else: that they allow for a soulfulness the screens, with their jumpy impersonality, cannot duplicate . . . The moral of Smith's book is the right one: not that screens are bad and books are good, but that what books do depends on the totality of what they are their turning pages, their sturdy self-sufficiency, above all the way they invite a child to withdraw from this world into a world alongside ours in an activity at once mentally strenuous and physically still.” Adam Gopnick, in The New York Times Book Review
“This tongue-in-cheek picture book about reading in the digital age features the best last line ever written in the history of children's literature. Savor it in print rather than trying to read it on your Nook, Kindle or iPad the punchline will be much better that way.” USA Today's "Pop Candy" blog
“Stylishly designed.” The Wall Street Journal, in its Summer Big Books Preview
“In the age of e-readers, Smith offers a wry tribute to the printed word through a conversation about a book. As a gorilla sits reading quietly, a technophilic donkey pesters him about the source of his absorption: "Can it text? Tweet? Wi-Fi?" He may be a complete ass, but the donkey finally comes to understand the value of a good book least of all, no batteries required!” AARP.com
“Donkey's gradual capitulation to the power of a real book is marked by both the hands of the clock (in a droll double-page time-lapse sequence) and the angles of his ears. But it's a mouse's final insouciant line that garners the biggest laugh.” The Washington Post
“Welcome to a stunning picture-book entry in the print versus e-books debate. . . One of this year's best last lines will not be spoiled here.” The Chicago Tribune
“This is a picture book that captures a defining moment indare I say it? civilization as we know it.” The Miami Herald
“Lane Smith brilliantly captures the fears of today's book lovers over e-readers in a children's book and does so with great humor.” The New York Post
“Dry humor permeates the visual exchanges. With a cheeky punch line (kids, do not try it at home), Smith uses irreverence to express reverence for the book.” The San Francisco Chronicle
“Personally, we laughed our a$$ offand we know a few kids who will, too.” Time Out New York Kids
“If you're a picture book connoisseur, chances are you're already familiar with Lane Smith. . . . Smith's latest picture book is called IT'S A BOOK. . . It's a very cute book, short and sweet. The illustrations are charmingparticularly the monkey's expressionsand your kids will love the silly questions the donkey asks about the monkey's book.” Wired magazine's "Geek Dad" blog
“Young readers, who are, after all, digital natives, will get a real kick out of Smith's book, as will their increasingly technology-obsessed parents.” Scripps Howard News Service
“In our increasingly electronic world, it's easy to forget the sweet simplicity of a book. In Lane Smith's delightful It's a Book, the high-tech generation, especially youngsters, can rediscover the fun there is to be had between two covers. The playful read is something you and your grandchildren can enjoy together, time and again.” The Bellingham Herald
“Adults who think their kids can handle the language with a wink and a smile will love reading this book aloud to their kids and having a great old belly laugh right along with them.” McClatchy-Tribune newswire
“Smith addresses e-literacy in his irreverent style. . . . Meanwhile, Smith has the best of both worlds: his stylish drawings, sleek typography, and kid-friendly humor combine old media and new.” Publishers Weekly, STARRED
“The final punch line . . . will lead to a fit of naughty but well-deserved laughter, and shouts of ‘Encore.' A clever choice for readers, young and old, who love a good joke and admire the picture book's ability to embody in 32 stills the action of the cinema.” School Library Journal, STARRED
“This is an exceptional picture book by an A-list award-winning, best-selling author/illustrator; a book that is promoting literacy and poking fun at those people who are forever glued to their computer screens. I'm quite curious to see how this one will play out. Especially when IT'S A BOOK starts showing up on a bunch of Best of the Year lists. Including mine.” Richie's Picks
“Wickedly funny.” The Horn Book
“Smith throws down his gauntlet in the ongoing debate over digital versus print.” Booklist
“Universally comical . . . the refrain and pacing hit the sweet spot for preschoolers, while a Treasure Island passage reduced to AIM-speak will have middle schoolers and adults in stitches.” Kirkus Reviews
“A must-read for every publisher concerned about the impact of electronic publishing issues and every child who wants to enjoy more of their childhood and Lane Smith's arch style. A devilish ending may scare a few... if it's you? Lighten up.” Publishers Weekly, named a "Staff Pick" by PW publisher George Slowik, Jr.
“I just received my finished copy of IT'S A BOOK, and I am simply mad for it. I want to give it to every i-Pad/Kindle-loving friend, to every skeptic who doubts the endurance of book culture in the 21st century, and certainly to children who must, must, must be shown the enchantments of holding a real book in their tiny hands. I hope IT'S A BOOK is a huge, huge success, and not just as a children's book.” Irma Wolfson, Book Buyer, Fontainebleau Hotel
“A spirited parable that should be required reading for every youngster likely to find piles of shiny new gadgets under the tree this year.” The New Yorker magazine's "Book Bench" blog, in its piece "Holiday Gift Guide for the Precocious Child"
A spirited parable that should be required reading for every youngster likely to find piles of shiny new gadgets under the tree this year.
Gr 3–5—Smith jump-starts the action on the title page where readers meet the characters—a mouse, a jackass, and a monkey. The monkey's oval head creates an "o" in the word "book." Slapstick humor ensues in an armchair face-off when one character, reared on a diet of Web 2.0 and gaming, cannot fathom what to do with a book and slings a barrage of annoying questions, "Can you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Can you make the characters fight?" Readers know who is speaking by each animal's unique font type and color, achieving economy and elegance on each page. Exasperated, Monkey hands over the volume. Life, death, and madness, all in a single illustrated page of Treasure Island, draw Jackass in. He responds with a knee-jerk reaction ("too many letters") and hilariously reduces it to text speak, but his interest is piqued. He covets the book and readers watch him pore over it for hours. Repeated images of him transfixed, shifting left to right, up and down, ears upright, then splayed, and eyes wide open, fill a wordless spread and offer a priceless visual testimony to the focused interaction between readers' imaginations and a narrative. Mouse delivers the final punch line, which will lead to a fit of naughty but well-deserved laughter, and shouts of "Encore." A clever choice for readers, young and old, who love a good joke and admire the picture book's ability to embody in 32 stills the action of the cinema.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
- 2010 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Award for Early School Years
- 2011 Children's Choice Book Award->Grades 5-6 Finalist
- 2011 Children's Choices->Advanced Readers (Grades 5-6)
- Boston Globe Best Children's Books of 2010
- Games & Activities - Kids Fiction
- General & Miscellaneous Animals - Kids Fiction
- Humorous stories->Miscellanea->Children's fiction
- New York Times Notable Children's Books of 2010
- Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Picture Books of 2010