Friday, November 25, 2011

It's a Little Book

Written & illustrated by Lane Smith
$7.99 (board book), ages 4-8, 24 pages

A baby donkey tries to guess what a book is for and comes up with adorably silly uses in this pint-size companion to Lane Smith's gem It's a Book.

Instead of facing off over reading formats (the donkey's laptop verses the gorilla's book), as they did in last year's book, the two discuss the purpose of books as only babies would:

Plunked down on the floor, with their legs straight in front of them, as if they just lost their balance and tipped over -- both saying things, but not quite talking them over.

The donkey suggests what a book could be, as his ears perk up in a quizzical way. The gorilla, a burly little guy with a tiny hat, dismisses every guess with a matter-of-fact "No."

Each time the donkey makes a guess, he also acts out that idea with the book (as if he were playing charades), and no matter how silly he gets, the gorilla just looks at him blankly.

It never seems to occur to the gorilla that he could help sort things out. Or perhaps his deadpan face hides his amusement and he's enjoying seeing his friend grasp at ideas.

First, the donkey tastes the book, then he opens it over his brow like a hat, props it on his legs like a laptop and sticks it in his mouth to make a beak.

Soon he's making it flap in the air like bird, riding it like a saddle, rigging it up to be a roof for his building of blocks, and even trying it out as a pillow. Ugh, definitely not a pillow.

Of course none of these guesses are correct, and by the end of Smith's book, the taciturn gorilla finally spills what the book is really for.

"It's for reading…It's a book silly!" Gorilla tells him, then opens it up for both to share.

Lane's repartee between the donkey and gorilla is spare and hilarious, and made all the more funny because it's played out in the same way that babies play: alongside each other without a lot of interaction. 

This is one of those books you want to coo about. Even the teaser on the back cover gets you giggling, announcing the book as "The companion to the best-selling It's a Book, now in diapers!" 

With all sorts of books opening up before a baby's eyes, here's the perfect introduction -- not to mention a fun source of ideas for charades. (That is, if your friends let you use a book as a prop.)

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