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It's a Book [Hardcover]

Lane Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages.

A Look Inside It's a Book
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

How do you scroll down? Does it need a password?
Shh… I’m reading I’ll charge it up when I’m done

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-5–Smith jump-starts the action on the title page where readers meet the characters–a mouse, a jackass, and a monkey. The monkey's oval head creates an “o” in the word “book.” Slapstick humor ensues in an armchair face-off when one character, reared on a diet of Web 2.0 and gaming, cannot fathom what to do with a book and slings a barrage of annoying questions, “Can you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Can you make the characters fight?” Readers know who is speaking by each animal's unique font type and color, achieving economy and elegance on each page. Exasperated, Monkey hands over the volume. Life, death, and madness, all in a single illustrated page of Treasure Island, draw Jackass in. He responds with a knee-jerk reaction (“too many letters”) and hilariously reduces it to text speak, but his interest is piqued. He covets the book and readers watch him pore over it for hours. Repeated images of him transfixed, shifting left to right, up and down, ears upright, then splayed, and eyes wide open, fill a wordless spread and offer a priceless visual testimony to the focused interaction between readers' imaginations and a narrative. Mouse delivers the final punch line, which will lead to a fit of naughty but well-deserved laughter, and shouts of “Encore.” A clever choice for readers, young and old, who love a good joke and admire the picture book's ability to embody in 32 stills the action of the cinema.Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Smith throws down his gauntlet in the ongoing debate over digital versus print in this spare offering. A donkey (jackass) with a laptop and a monkey with a hardcover book discuss the merits of their preferred formats. “How do you scroll down?” the donkey asks. “Do you blog with it?” “Can you make the characters fight?” To each question, the monkey offers an answer that riffs on this small, square picture book’s title. At one point, the monkey shoves a page into his companion’s hands, showing a story about a pirate. “Too many words,” the donkey responds, and he quickly transcribes the story as “LJS: rrr! K? lol! / JIM: :( ! :).” Unimpressed, the monkey continues to build his case until his big-eared mate converts to print so enthusiastically that he vows to keep reading. Although it is adults, not children, who will best appreciate the subject and satire here, the basic drama created by the characters’ arguments may help this find an audience among kids, especially tech-savvy ones. Grades 1-3. --Andrew Medlar

Review

“I do love this book.” —The New Yorker magazine's, Book Bench blog

“Those of us for whom books are a faith in themselves — who find the notion that pixels, however ordered, could be any kind of substitute for the experience of reading in a chair with the strange thing spread open on our lap — will love this book. Though it will surely draw a laugh from kids, it will give even more pleasure to parents who have been trying to make loudly the point that Smith’s book makes softly: that the virtues of a book are independent of any bells, whistles or animation it might be made to contain.   . .  . For in trying to make the case for books to our kids, exactly the case we want to make is not that they can compete with the virtues of computer or screens, but that they do something else: that they allow for a soulfulness the screens, with their jumpy impersonality, cannot duplicate . . . The moral of Smith’s book is the right one: not that screens are bad and books are good, but that what books do depends on the totality of what they are — their turning pages, their sturdy self-sufficiency, above all the way they invite a child to withdraw from this world into a world alongside ours in an activity at once mentally strenuous and physically still.” —Adam Gopnick, in The New York Times Book Review

“This tongue-in-cheek picture book about reading in the digital age features the best last line ever written in the history of children’s literature. Savor it in print rather than trying to read it on your Nook, Kindle or iPad —the punchline will be much better that way.” —USA Today’s “Pop Candy” blog

“Stylishly designed.” — The Wall Street Journal, in its Summer Big Books Preview

“In the age of e-readers, Smith offers a wry tribute to the printed word through a conversation about a book. As a gorilla sits reading quietly, a technophilic donkey pesters him about the source of his absorption: "Can it text? Tweet? Wi-Fi?" He may be a complete ass, but the donkey finally comes to understand the value of a good book — least of all, no batteries required!” —AARP.com

“Donkey's gradual capitulation to the power of a real book is marked by both the hands of the clock (in a droll double-page time-lapse sequence) and the angles of his ears. But it's a mouse's final insouciant line that garners the biggest laugh.” —The Washington Post

“Welcome to a stunning picture-book entry in the print versus e-books debate. . . One of this year’s best last lines will not be spoiled here.” —The Chicago Tribune

“This is a picture book that captures a defining moment in—dare I say it? —civilization as we know it.” —The Miami Herald

“Lane Smith brilliantly captures the fears of today’s book lovers over e-readers in a children’s book — and does so with great humor.” —The New York Post

“Dry humor permeates the visual exchanges. With a cheeky punch line (kids, do not try it at home), Smith uses irreverence to express reverence for the book.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

“Personally, we laughed our a$$ off—and we know a few kids who will, too.” — Time Out New York Kids

“If you’re a picture book connoisseur, chances are you’re already familiar with Lane Smith. . . . Smith’s latest picture book is called  IT’S A BOOK.  . . It’s a very cute book, short and sweet. The illustrations are charming—particularly the monkey’s expressions—and your kids will love the silly questions the donkey asks about the monkey’s book.” —Wired magazine’s “Geek Dad” blog

“Young readers, who are, after all, digital natives, will get a real kick out of Smith's book, as will their increasingly technology-obsessed parents.” —Scripps Howard News Service

“In our increasingly electronic world, it’s easy to forget the sweet simplicity of a book. In Lane Smith's delightful It's a Book, the high-tech generation, especially youngsters, can rediscover the fun there is to be had between two covers. The playful read is something you and your grandchildren can enjoy together, time and again.” —The Bellingham Herald

“Adults who think their kids can handle the language with a wink and a smile will love reading this book aloud to their kids and having a great old belly laugh right along with them.” —McClatchy-Tribune newswire

“Smith addresses e-literacy in his irreverent style. . . . Meanwhile, Smith has the best of both worlds: his stylish drawings, sleek typography, and kid-friendly humor combine old media and new.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED
 
“The final punch line . . . will lead to a fit of naughty but well-deserved laughter, and shouts of ‘Encore.’ A clever choice for readers, young and old, who love a good joke and admire the picture book’s ability to embody in 32 stills the action of the cinema.” —School Library Journal, STARRED

“This is an exceptional picture book by an A-list award-winning, best-selling author/illustrator; a book that is promoting literacy and poking fun at those people who are forever glued to their computer screens. I’m quite curious to see how this one will play out.  Especially when IT’S A BOOK starts showing up on a bunch of Best of the Year lists.  Including mine.”  —Richie’s Picks

“Wickedly funny.” —The Horn Book

“Smith throws down his gauntlet in the ongoing debate over digital versus print.” —Booklist

“Universally comical . . . the refrain and pacing hit the sweet spot for preschoolers, while a Treasure Island passage reduced to AIM-speak will have middle schoolers and adults in stitches.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A must-read for every publisher concerned about the impact of electronic publishing issues and every child who wants to enjoy more of their childhood and Lane Smith’s arch style. A devilish ending may scare a few... if it’s you? Lighten up.” —Publishers Weekly, named a “Staff Pick” by PW publisher George Slowik, Jr.

“I just received my finished copy of IT'S A BOOK, and I am simply mad for it. I want to give it to every i-Pad/Kindle-loving friend, to every skeptic who doubts the endurance of book culture in the 21st century, and certainly to children who must, must, must be shown the enchantments of holding a real book in their tiny hands. I hope IT'S A BOOK is a huge, huge success, and not just as a children's book.” —Irma Wolfson, Book Buyer, Fontainebleau Hotel

“A spirited parable that should be required reading for every youngster likely to find piles of shiny new gadgets under the tree this year.” —The New Yorker magazine’s “Book Bench” blog, in its piece “Holiday Gift Guide for the Precocious Child”

About the Author

Lane Smith has written and illustrated a bunch of stuff, including It’s a Book; John, Paul, George & Ben and Madam President. His titles with Jon Scieszka have included the Caldecott Honor-winner The Stinky Cheese Man; The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs; Math Curse; and Science Verse. Lane's other high profile titles include Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky; The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders; Big Plans by Bob Shea; and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. In 1996 Lane served as Conceptual Designer on the Disney film version of James and the Giant Peach. Lane also wrote and illustrated the retro, cult favorites, The Happy Hocky Family and The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country. Like the Hocky family, he and book designer Molly Leach live in a little town in the country.
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