I’ve liked Lane Smith ever since The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and it’s always fun to see what new things he’ll come up with. Well, here are two recent books of his which have come across my desk recently: It’s a Little Book and Grandpa Green.
We’ll start with It’s a Little Book, which is, in fact a little book. It’s a board book follow-up to It’s a Book, but unlike many picture-book-to-board-book transitions, it’s not just a reformatting of the original. The monkey and the donkey are in diapers this time, and the story is much simpler: the donkey asks the monkey “is it for chewing/quacking/emailing/etc.?” as he demonstrates, and the monkey simply answers “No” each time. At the end, he explains that it’s for reading, ending with the line, “It’s a book, silly.”
Okay, yeah, I just gave away the ending, but I wanted to point out that Smith made this one more kid-friendly than the last and it’s safe for all ages. What the donkey does with the book in this version is a little more geared for the board-book age, and it’s very cute. Do you need both? Well, probably not. But for little kids this is probably the better pick.
There’s a very cute trailer for the book on YouTube if you want a taste. The baby voices really sell it, I think.
Grandpa Green is a very different sort of book. Unlike most of Smith’s books that I’ve seen, it doesn’t have that hint of sarcasm or biting humor, but is actually quite sincere and tender. Grandpa Green has lived a long life — he grew up on a farm, suffered through chicken pox, went to war, and had lots of kids and grandkids. His great-grandson tells this story as he walks through his grandpa’s garden, surrounded by plants that form the scenes from his life. It’s a pretty short book that really draws your attention more to the images than the words, as the the shrubs and trees depict everything from a wedding cake to a hatching chick to a firing cannon. There is some humor, as the boy walks through the garden and picks up things that his grandpa has forgotten throughout the garden, even as it deals with a serious subject, the fading of memory with age.
It’s a bit of a departure from Smith’s usual books, but it’s beautiful and touching. My kids really liked it, even though I don’t know that my five-year-old really quite grasped what was going on. However, it’s also a book that a child might share with their grandparent or great-grandparent, as a way to inspire conversations about their lives and to appreciate their family history.
For more about Lane Smith and his books, you can visit his website.
Disclosure: GeekDad received review copies of these two books.