Smith, Lane. It’s a Book. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1596436060 32 pp. $17.99
It’s a picture book. It’s a funny book. It’s a controversial book. Why? Because the author drops “the J-bomb.” OK, that’s not why it’s a picture book, but that’s why it’s controversial and also part of the humor. The author resorts to using the lowest form of humor–the pun–a type of word play used by the likes of Shakespeare. But let me not put the cart before the jackass… It’s a Book is a story about a monkey who is trying to read but is constantly interrupted by a techie jackass who doesn’t understand how a book works. The jackass asks if it can scroll, text, tweet, etc. and the monkey tells him, “No, it’s a book.” When the jackass finally sits down and reads the book, he gets engrossed in the story for hours and won’t give the book back until he’s finished.
Bibliophiles will enjoy this homage to the printed word. The illustrations capture the spirit of the work and the final punchline is delivered with a smile. The controversy only goes to show that language is powerful, especially in the printed form. The author could have chosen a different animal or eliminated the punchline, but then the book wouldn’t have the same impact. Cats are more tech-savvy than jackasses (just look at all the lolcats, and when was the last time you saw a picture of a jackass on a keyboard?), but that punchline would have been REALLY offensive! ;^)