by Mac Barnett
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Have you ever read a book and know it's not the time for you to review it right away?
I read this book at ALA and sat there a bit perplexed. I didn't get it. And that's not unusual for Mac Barnett books. Sometimes you have to dig deep into his stories, and other times you almost have to take a step back to look at it another way.
I waited until the book was published, got it a bit later, and gave it another read. Sometimes I need a book to be explicit - this is exactly what it's about. It's clear and obvious. Sometimes the hidden meaning is there, you just have to dig a bit deeper. This is a book that I still don't know what it's about. I guess I could think about it in a few ways. Maybe when we try and avoid things that are right there, it's when they're gone we realize their true importance. Maybe it's about looking at what's in front of us. Maybe it's about how things influence us even when we're not expecting it. And maybe it's about something else I'm completely missing. I think sometimes that's what Mac Barnett wants us to see in his books. That every reader can get something different from it.
I tried finding an interview with Mac in regards to this book and couldn't find anything. I guess I'm still looking for those answers. Sometimes I need a book to be explicit - this is exactly what it's about. It's clear and obvious. Sometimes the hidden meaning is there, you just have to dig a bit deeper.
This is one of those books that I want to hold high above my head and say, "you think you older kids are too mature for picture books??? Then read this and tell me what it's all about!" Yes, this is a book that I think should be used with older students. This is a book that warrants multiple rereads and go back to look at what is being said and what isn't. This is a book to go back to and find the nuances that Barnett has put in to find.
Patrick McDonnell has done a great job with the illustrations. I love the palette that makes up most of the story - black, whites and reds on the creamy white background. And then when it changes I think it shows how the mood of the story changes. It adds more to what is not being said through the text.
So, am I missing something? What was I supposed to be looking for? Or are you like me and perhaps are also, a bit perplexed.