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Which Would You Rather Be? Hardcover – June 4, 2002


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Hardcover, June 4, 2002
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (June 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060296534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060296537
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 10.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,494,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Would you rather be a stick or a stone? A cat or a dog? Thunder or lightning? William Steig (Sylvester and the Magic Pebble) teams up with illustrator Harry Bliss (A Fine, Fine School) in this simple picture book that cleverly illustrates the Would you rather... game popularized by the chirp y, leggy Jiminy Cricket. A magician's bunny, equipped with wand and black top hat, asks a boy and a girl which of two things they'd rather be. "A stick?" he asks as he conjures a stick out of the hat. "Or a stone?" he asks as he produces a hovering rock. Of course, the action picks up a little as living creatures start to emerge from the hat. (The kids have to run off, for instance, when they have to choose between a mouse and an elephant.) Grownup or kid? The grownup is a balding businessman reading a newspaper (while sticking out of the magician's hat), the kid is a skateboarding kid zooming out of the hat. The children, usually silent, quickly decide on that one.

If Harry Bliss had to choose between being himself or a bird, he wouldn't decide at all. He would want wings and he "definitely would not eat worms--no way." There's plenty of fodder for a lively read-aloud session here, as kids get creative in their analysis of the pros and cons of being a cat or a dog, etc., etc. For more complicated (and downright odd) choices, try John Burningham's delightful Would You Rather.... (Ages 3 to 6) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

In this wonderfully economical exercise, a shrewd question-and-answer format harmonizes with fine-tuned images. On almost every page, a big gray rabbit faces two children across an upside-down top hat. The rabbit is matter-of-fact, not cute. Voice bubbles contain its deadpan questions ("Which would you rather be?/ A stick/ or a stone?/ A cat/ or a dog?"), as each possibility emerges from the hat and the children react with a word or a gesture. When the dog chases the cat, the girl shoots an irritated look at her laughing friend, who shouts, "A dog!" As a hockey player crawls from the hat ("A boy"), the displeased girl crosses her arms. Her scowl turns to a competitive smirk when the next question ("or a girl?") suggests the skater could be female. After "an elephant" fills the page, only the boy's departing foot can be seen as the children retreat; when "a crocodile" lunges out, a well-placed voice bubble and the croc's gaze indicate that all three players have exited stage right. Bliss (illus. of A Fine, Fine School) composes his wry illustrations on a blank white ground in the fluid style of Charles M. Schulz or Crockett Johnson, and he loads his characters' every movement with subtle meaning. As in his Pete's a Pizza, Steig provides many more options than hard-and-fast rules, leaving the continuation of this game to the bemused audience. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

William Steig (1907-2003) published his first children's book, Roland the Minstrel Pig, in 1968, and received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (978-1416902065) in 1970. His works also include The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book, and Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. His most recent books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux are Shrek! (released by DreamWorks as a major motion picture) and Wizzil, illustrated by Quentin Blake. School Library Journal named Shrek! a Best Book of 1990 and said of it, "Steig's inimitable wit and artistic dash have never been sharper or more expertly blended."

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on July 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a large, gray, wand wielding rabbit, complete with upturned magician's hat, sits facing a young boy and girl, he asks..."Which would you rather be? A stick or a stone?" And so the game begins. Would you rather be an elbow or a knee, mouse or elephant, rain or snow, snake or crocodile, alone or together? Some of the answers seem to be obvious, as we see a balding, eyeglass wearing, paper reading grown-up come out of the hat, compared to a skateboard riding kid. But it's clear from the start that there are no right or wrong answers. Just thoughtful, clever fun. William Steig's minimal text, floating in dialogue bubbles, sets the stage. But it's Harry Bliss' bold, bright, and expressive artwork that steals the show with its humorous detail. Perfect for preschoolers, Which Would You Rather Be? is a simple and entertaining picture book that will get those creative juices flowing. This is just the beginning; the game is sure to continue long after the book is closed.
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By mcu on July 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
A favorite of the local five year old here.
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Format: Paperback
Mommy Bookworm's Thoughts: Until I read information about the author, I didn't know he was the creator of Shrek. I read one review online that mentioned it's odd to have him be the author here instead of the illustrator since he was an artist. I think the concept of the book is cute since the rabbit is the one pulling things out of the top hat instead of the humans. However, I feel there is no real point to the book. I guess it is just to get kids thinking of what they prefer, but there's no real story to the book other than just asking question upon question upon question - and the kids in the story don't even answer all of them. The illustrations are VERY colorful and fun though! As I noted above, the reading level is 4-8 years old, but Barnes & Noble has a note saying it's for infants and preschoolers. I believe that it would be a fun book for younger children because of the illustrations and big words, but children would definitely have to be older in order to actually read the book.

Dahlia Bookworm's Thoughts: I liked the book because it was funny. The book was interesting because it had weird-looking pictures. The pictures looked funny.

Daisy Bookworm's Thoughts: I could easily read this book by myself. I like the part where the kids say they'll have to think about whether they'd want to be together or alone. I also think the part where the bunny asked if you'd rather be rain or snow was funny because one is liquid and one is solid and I thought it was funny because they were opposites. I also like the pictures and all the colors.
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Format: Hardcover
My 2-year old is entranced by this book and asks for it again and again. The drawings appeal to both a child and adult I think--simple, clear, great color, but with sophisticated humor too. Toddlers enjoy the repetition of the simple text. A great opportunity to compare ordinary objects and various living things.
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Format: Paperback
my twins liked this book straight away. at 2 and a half they picked up on the theme and started making up "which would you rather be" questions of their own. I'd recommend this book. It's a good imagination stimulant.
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