Wednesday, 31 December 2014

It's a Book by Lane Smith

This is a charming and delightful picture book.

A tech-savvy donkey quizzes a monkey about the object which so engrosses him. “Do you blog with it?” the donkey says. “No, it’s a book,” the monkey explains. This only makes the donkey’s exasperation keener: Where’s the mouse? Does it need a password? Can you make the characters fight? Can it text, tweet, toot? No, none of that, the monkey explains, and then Monkey hands the book to the donkey.

The book, it turns out, is “Treasure Island,” though, this isn’t explicitly announced to the reader, but must be inferred from a quotation. The tech-savvy donkey, at first, is unimpressed by the word rich book and quickly suggests a reduced text-message version of the famous sequence he has just read: 
“LJS: rrr! K? lol! .
JIM: : ( ! : )”
Then, in a memorable two-page spread, the donkey reads the book. A clock runs above him, counting out the hours. The donkey's fascination with the book is expressed with wonderful caricatural economy, first puzzlement, then absorption and at last the special quality of readerly happiness: a mind lost in a story.
It's a Book doesn't attempt to claim that books are superior to technology, nor does it suggest that they can compete with computers or screens.What it does is demonstrate that they do something else. The message is that even in a world of internet and smartphones, the book still has its place and still retains its own special and irreplaceable magic.
This would be the perfect text to use as a stimulus for a discussion which compares and contrasts 'old' technology with 'new' technology. 
Lane Smith is probably best known in the UK as the illustrator of Jon Scieska's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.