Saturday, October 30, 2010

Smitten with Smith

Okay, I will freely admit that as soon as I see the name Lane Smith attached to a book this big grin starts to light up my face.  In my heart of hearts I know that at the very least I will burst out laughing once if not more.  Upon opening It's a Book to the title pages, the three characters are introduced; mouse, jackass and monkey.  Careful placement on the pages has them becoming a part of the title itself.

With short clipped sentences the computer-geek donkey and book-reading ape have a conversation beginning like this:
What do you have there?
It's a book.

How to you scroll down?                                                          
I don't.  I turn the page.  It's a book.

Do you blog with it?
No, it's a book.

On the next two page spread I defy the reader not to crack up when the donkey asks, Where's your mouse?  Without a word the ape shifts his eyes to the hat on his head which has been lifted up by the mouse who was underneath. 

Patience on the wan monkey finally asks if his partner in this conversation wants to look at the book.  At first jackass wants to reduce the page from Treasure Island to a few "texted" statements.  But within the next few lines of banter between this duo the reader knows that he has been drawn into this book not by its technological capabilities but by the sheer brillance of the writing.  In fact he does not want to give it back.  Needless to say the end will have readers young and old alike exploding with laughter as Lane via the mouse delivers yet another edgy play on words. (I have left the final exchange of words out of my review in order not to spoil the ending but please consider your audience before purchase.)

Even without the text Lane's illustrations crafted with layered oil paints, brush and ink are stunning in the subtle conveyance of exactly what his characters are thinking with the lift of an eyebrow, a twist of the mouth or a roll of the eye.  As in most of his books his choice of background colors lift the characters and setting off the page even though they are portrayed in earth-tone hues.  This is classic Lane Smith.  It's already been added to my list of favorites for 2010 and a copy has a home on my bookshelves.

View Curious Pages to get Smith's personal views on this book.  In addition to the web site associated with his name beginning this review Lane Smith Books is his official web site. 

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