Tag Archives: look! jeff mack
picture book wordplay: you are (not) small & look!
Why am I pairing these two (excellent) picture books? They both have language concepts that really shine while not outshining their spirit and heart! Both are excellent examples of a successful contemporary picture book—spare, clever, funny, AND touching. All that in so few words!
LOOK! has only two words! Two words! & You Are (Not) Small has spare language and plays with two words in the little mix: BIG and SMALL.
In small packages, both books accomplish a lot. Come see!
You are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant.
There is a small creature and a big creature. But neither creature believes herself to be respectively small or big. There is evidence given. Arguments break out. Until…other creatures arrive to put everybody’s perspective in perspective.
The conclusion is that nobody is small or big. Everybody is small AND big. Which is pretty profound, no?
But most of all, for me, the magic I want to point out today is the words. Those two words, amidst the others, are omnipresent, played-around-with opposites. Small. Big. Kang’s experimentation with those words (and Weyant’s visual play) is what makes this one sing for big readers and small ones.
Look! by Jeff Mack.
This book plays with two words too. The only two words in its pages! LOOK and OUT.
There are two characters, too. A boy and a gorilla. For me, the gorilla is the one that anchors the book, the one we care about and feel for. (I cared so much I almost cried.)
Ostensibly, this is a book about how reading is better than watching TV. But it’s also about friendship and kindness and giving others attention. (And then, it’s a bedtime book too. You’ll see.)
But that masterful language makes it. The gorilla says, LOOK. He wants the boy to look, to see his tricks, to spend time with him. But every time the boy looks, there’s a mishap and the gorilla’s pleas and ploys fail. So the boy says, OUT. As in, go. Leave me alone, with my TV show.
In the end though, don’t worry, gorilla and boy come together, united by something novel to look at together—a book. And that’s when the boy changes and the conclusion is sweet, sweet, sweet.
But I used all those words to tell you about it when the book is only two words and a few pictures. That’s the amazing thing about picture books.
Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for Look! images!
Any other picture books that play with words like this?