|It's a book, Jackass.|
I completely understand how some families consider the word "jackass" off limits and others who don't. In many countries the word isn't seen as a "bad" word at all. In Australia, it's not really a problem, but start talking about fanny packs and some Australians might pass out from shock. Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid uses the word "bloody" frequently, just to give a bit more Britishness to one of the characters. I didn't have a problem with the word because it means nothing to me, but some of my really laid back British parents told me it was a very inappropriate word for an elementary library book. Basically words and their import change from culture to culture and meaning can be lost in translation. I thought that the word "jackass" made the book seem slightly mean spirited at the end, but I generally didn't have a problem with it. I do have a problem with people insulting other families and dragging their children into the argument (see the afore mentioned comments in the article above). We're all just trying to raise our kids the best we can and try to ensure that they grow up to be healthy and happy; parental choices differ as do their book purchases. You will not ruin your child by reading them this book, they may yell out "jackass" at inappropriate times, but other parents will understand. And hey, it's a teaching moment - just because somebody doesn't understand what something is doesn't mean you can make fun of them.
I think the humor is going to be a bit more advanced for the normal picture book audience. It would make a great gift for high school students or adults (my husband loved it because my Kindle is surgically attached to my hand and he's an IT teacher). It's a Book also raises the point that just like not all movies are appropriate for kids of a certain age, neither are all picture books. Just because the book has illustrations doesn't mean it's for kids. And quite possibly, it was a rather brave choice on the part of Smith and Roaring Book Press - think of how many books they would have sold if they hadn't used "jackass" but "donkey" instead.
On the illustration side of the review - loved the art, layout, and even font choice! Simple, expressive, and colorful illustrations with a very clean layout. I love that Jackass speaks in a sans serif texting-type font while Monkey's words are all in a more warm and literary serif font. On the whole It's a Book is a very clever tongue-in-cheek read.
* as described by Publisher's Weekly's George Slowik, Jr.
- If you buy this book for your children you're a bad parent and your kids will be the scourge of society by growing up to be bank robbing druggies.
- If you don't buy this book for your children you're a bad parent and your kids will rebel against your totalitarian rule by becoming bank robbing druggies.
In reality, it's a fun book, but parents and gift givers might want to consider the recipient before purchasing. While I liked it and found it both timely and amusing, it's not a book I'll read over and over so I give it 3 stars - this is a good one to pick up from the library.