It’s a Book

by Lane Smith
ISBN: 9781596436060

I enjoy Lane Smith’s illustrations (he illustrated The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, among others). His images have interesting textures, without seeming overwrought. For this book they are quite pared down, in a simple but still comfortable and not stark way.

The real message in this cute and clever story is that books are awesome. Even though you don’t need a screen name or password to use them. Even though they don’t tweet or text. Even though you can’t make the characters fight.

It’s an illustrated children’s book — an older monkey introduces a younger jackass to the concept of “book” with a little help from his (actual, not peripheral) mouse. As with many wonderful children’s books, the audience shouldn’t be limited to kids. A book person of any age, especially a geeky one, will enjoy it. It’s funny.

Apparently it is catching some flack for the very last line, which [no real need for a spoiler alert here, don’t worry] is: “It’s a book, Jackass.” Some people feel jackass (even when you are talking about an actual animal) is inappropriate for kids. Yes, Smith also means jackass in the not referencing the animal sense. So if you are terribly concerned that under-10s will learn the word jackass or the concept of word play from a book, I suppose you should keep this away from them.

I think that is ridiculous, and the people carrying on about it are being, well, jackasses.

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