09 July 2008

Review--Wild About Books

WILD ABOUT BOOKS by Judy Sierra, Illustrated by Marc Brown
May be enjoyed by children ages 18 months-- about 9 years

In the first major compromise of my parenting ideals, I bought a DVD for Charlie to watch: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Scholastic. What began as a cute infatuation with The Simpsons (Charlie would point to our DVDs of the series and shout, "Dooh!" his approximation of Homer's ubiquitous "D'oh!") sparked concern as Charlie grew more imitative. Not eager to see him grab a stuffed animal by the throat and growl, "Why you little..." I found an appropriate distraction with "Boom Boom." We both enjoyed the animated version of Wild About Books (one of seven stories on the disc), so I found a copy of the book.

Book lovers will especially appreciate this story, which involves a librarian bringing her bookmobile into a zoo and igniting a passion for reading and writing among the inhabitants. There is a dedication to Dr. Seuss on the last page, and the rhyme and meter evoke his style without being overly derivative. The writing and illustrations are playful in a way which makes you feel the artist and author found much pleasure in their work; there are little jokes and allusions peppered throughout which may be appreciated on various levels, such as waterproof Harry Potter books for the otters and a penguin scribbling, "The Iceman Cometh." My favorite part is when the insects write haiku, with the scorpion giving out "stinging" reviews: the dung beetle writes, "Roll a ball of dung--/Any kind of poo will do--/Baby beetle bed," to which the scorpion responds, "Stinks."

The illustrations are whimsical and engaging. Charlie loves the hippo who has a big grin from being awarded the "Zoolitzer Prize"--he will turn back to that page and look up at me with the silliest, squinty-eyed smile. This is one we will enjoy for quite a while.

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