Wild About Books (by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown) came out in 2004 to rave reviews. I read it for the first time last week, and was very taken by it myself. A book mobile arrives at the zoo, and next thing the reader knows, "In a flash, every beast in the zoo was stampeding To learn all about this new something called reading." It was a pleasure to read out loud--as the example shows, Judy Sierra knows how to write lines that scan, in a Seuss-ian way. Not only do the animals learn to read, they learn to write their own books. I especially enjoyed the bug written haiku, accompanied by scathing scorpion reviews--
"Roll a ball of dung--
Any kind of poo will do--
Baby beetle bed."
My husband was inspired to write his own contribution to this review:
"Anapestic tetrameter's surely not easy
the first line is simple, the second a queasy
grasping at any syllable in sight
and jamming it in but not getting it right"
Judy Sierra gets it right, so you hardly notice it's there."
He did have two quibbles:
"I do think she risks leaving other hippo would-be authors in tears by raising unrealistic expectations about first-time publishing." (The hippo wins the Zoolitzer Prize).
And in reference to the clever and amusing insertion of actual books and authors into the rhymes, he writes:
"There should be some marine mammals, then she could rhyme "fin" with "LeGuin" and point the kids in the right direction." (Hear,hear, I say. Anyone else looking forward with great happiness to Powers, coming this September?)
Wild About Books is brightly illustrated by Marc Brown. He's not my personal favorite (I like my animals a tad more realistic than his colorful caricatures), but his creatures rollick along nicely with the text. According to the Random House teachers catalogue, his illustrations "reflect the naïve spirit of folk art at its best." Hmph. Sounds, perhaps, a tad patronizing...And what the heck does it mean anyway.