Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book Review: Jack and the Box

Jack and the Box, by Art Spiegelman, is part of the Toon Book series, a group of books that are being marketed as the first comics for brand new readers. I've been sent three different titles to review.

Jack and the Box is about a bunny named Jack who is presented with a box by his parents as a gift. Not able to open it, he sets it down and a google eyed, clown-like toy pops out. Jack, like most kids, looks a bit disturbed by the toy. Throughout the book Jake tries to coax the toy back out of the box to play with him, but it won't do what he says. Instead it makes fun of his name, only wants to play hide and seek, seems to get a kick out of scaring him, and eventually things get out of control.

I had really mixed feelings about this book. While close to the end of the story the toy reminds me of the Cat in the Hat, Jack and the Box doesn't achieve the same harmless fun feel to it. Instead, the toy comes off as really annoying, to the point of creepy.

The idea that the toy is just "silly, not "bad"even though it breaks something of Jack's, makes fun of his name, and seems to get a kick out of frustrating him, bothers me. There is a difference between silly and rude, and the toy doesn't seem to get it. Excusing it's behavior by saying "oh, it's a silly toy" seems to condone the strange antics. I'd be hard pressed to try to explain to my kid that someone making fun of his name is just being silly.

In fact, isn't that called bullying?

For a child to practice reading to themselves, this book might work if they enjoy it.

As a read aloud for bedtime, just don't. There are so many other more enjoyable books out there.

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