This Is Not a Picture Book!
Written and Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
Chronicle Books 5/01/2016
40 pages Ages 3—5
“In this quirky yet sweet picture book about the joy and power of reading, Duck learns that even books without pictures can be fun. While he and his friend Bug may struggle at first to decipher their book, they stick with it, and before long they discover that not only can they read it, but it deserves a place on the shelf with all their favorite picture books.” [press release]
Duck finds a new book, but when there are no pictures, he punt kicks it away. Then feeling bad, he apologizes to the book and opens it up. There are only words in this book, unlike all the other books Duck has enjoyed. Bug asks Duck if he can read it.
“I’m not sure. Words are so difficult.”
Duck and Bug cross a log over a gap—a metaphorical gap between picture books and books with only words. Duck perks up when he finds words he does know. Some are funny. Some are sad. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations change to correspond with the words Duck recognizes. With the funny words, Duck and Bug walk into a world reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. When Duck reads the sad words, the two walk through an image of bombed out houses, still smoking.
In the end, Duck learns words “carry you away,” as a green-headed goose carries Duck, Bug and the book up into the air. Soon, the goose drops them and they land on Duck’s bed, where he’s actually been the entire time. His room has a huge bookcase full of picture books (and soon one non-picture book). Duck hugs the book as he tells Bug how words, “stay with you . . . forever.”
This is Not a Picture Book is a great lesson in both imagination and the power of reading. I love how Duck embraces the words and the illustrations change to reflect what he reads. As Bug listens to the story, he sees the images in his mind’s eye. He does not need actual pictures in the book to enjoy the story. Duck has certainly become engrossed in his reading, not noticing Bug’s fear in the raging waters.
This is Not a Picture Book is a wonderful primer for kids on the brink of early readers. They may be afraid to leave the comfort of the picture book, but need to move on. Duck seems to be at this place when he kicks the non-picture book away, yet he picks it up and tries reading it, transforming himself in the process.This transformative power of words—of reading—can take readers to worlds far away and worlds only the imagination can create. When given the chance, such as Duck gives this book, stories can transform our moods and our attitudes (and sometimes, our lives).
One of the most imaginative, yet revealing aspects of This is Not a Picture Book, are the end pages. In the front, the words—and there are only words—are sometimes jumbled, sometimes not. These pages are similar to what a new reader might see, with familiar words appearing as they should and unfamiliar words looking like gobbledygook. The back end pages make sense; each word correctly spelled. Here, without pictures, is Duck’s story complete with Bug’s request to, “Read it again!”
I think This is Not a Picture Book is simply brilliant.
THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK. Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by Sergio Ruzzier. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
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Sergio Ruzzier: http://www.ruzzier.com/
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Reprinted with permission from THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK © 2016 by Sergio Ruzzier, Chronicle Books.
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: This is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”