'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 10 September 2010

Review: It's a Book

Sitting vaingloriously atop the New York Times Bestseller List, It's a Book arrived in my mailbox last week... and I must say, I was delighted to immerse myself in this new runaway bestseller and come out the other end to announce to the thin air around me that it most deservedly warrants that vainglorious spot.

Not that I'm a NYTB List skeptic - it's just that oftentimes the sellingness of a book does not necessarily impart its brilliance. Take the Lego Star Wars Dictionary currently in the number 1 spot, for example. I'm sure it's a sensational book... if you're into Lego and Star Wars.
It's a Book, however, transcends personal preference and subjectivity on all counts. This is a book that will delight and entrance each and everyone who has ever laid finger on a computer keyboard - and that, of course, includes most English-speaking children, even those under the age of 2.

But it's more than that. The book is beautiful. It's clever. It's funny. It's ryhthmic. It's contemporary, gorgeous and whimsical. It's emotive, dry and real. It's one of those heart-palpitating books that is destined to be a classic (with humble congratulations to Lane Smith) and most importantly - it's one of those books you want to share. Over and over again. (You know - "OMG! You just gotta read this! Now! I said NOW!" My poor kids.)

It's kind of hard to review this book beyond the above because I so don't want to spoil it for those who've not yet read it... (and, of course, you must read it). Suffice to say, the ending pages are like the boom tish of a drum kit - and like a movie trailer that just reveals too much, you don't really don't want to read about It's a Book in advance. You really don't. So avoid it if you can.

It's a Book quite simply epitomises what it feels like to be in love with a book. A regular, everyday, paper and card, typeset, quite possibilty illustrated, book. The thing you hold in your hands, clutch close to your chest, fondle the pages, run your fingers over the pictures, smell and soak yourself in. And importantly, the story that seeps from its pages and into your soul so that the reader and pages become one.

Without direct reference, it reminds us of the deeply entrenched, unchangeable, very papery and pagey essence that is a book. And perhaps with indirect reference, if we want to get political here, there many just be a teensy message about the predicted e-book phenomenon, but let's not talk politics here.

It's a Book, without wanting to appear like I'm jumping on the NYTB List bandwagon, is one of my favourite books this year. And dare I say it - this decade. There, I said it.

Title: It's a Book
Author/Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Walker Books, $27.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 September 2010
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781921720147
For ages: 6 - 9
Type: Picture Book

Teachers' Notes