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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Jay and the Bounty of Books
Jay and the Bounty of Books
by Randall Ivey, illustrated by Chuck Galey
Pelican Publishing Company,(February 2007)
Jay went out and played but soon grew bored.
"Mom, it's time for 'The Robot Warriors.' And after that it's 'Super-Duper Pup.'"
Jays' mother shook her head and said, "An eight-year-old boy should not be bored. I will fix that for you."
She drove Jay to the library and helped him pick out books.
Jay took his books to the backyard and read about pirates and robots and green-necked dinosaurs with scarlet tongues and chimpanzees dancing on the moon. The books took him everywhere imaginable.
--Jay and the Bounty of Books by Randall Ivey, illustrated by Chuck Galey, p. 3-5.
Jay watches TV all summer--too much TV--so his mother drives him to the library and helps him pick out books. Jay quickly discovers that he loves books, and begins devouring them--only to find that he's suddenly, quite literally, become a giant. Neighbors stare, television crews come, but no one knows what to do--until one professor suggests that he needs to share some of the stories he's learned with other people. Once Jay does that, he returns to normal size. This is a fun, enjoyable fantasy about books and the ways they can feed us. If you love books, this book should appeal to you; it is an overt celebration of books and reading. Ivey's text has a story teller feel, using specific details to help make the story come alive (green-necked dinosaurs with scarlet tongues). It's also very imaginative, taking a metaphor and making it literal in the story--that Jay becomes so full of the stories he reads, and all that they give him, that he grows. This is a neat concept that may appeal to readers on several levels--the idea of becoming an actual giant, and the idea that books can metaphorically feed you. At times the text falters a little. There are major point-of-view shifts, from Jay's mother, to Jay, and back again. Sometimes it feels like we lose Jay a little. I would have liked to see the story clearly set in one point of view where the reader could easily identify with the main character. And though I can understand how everything would appear to be toys to a giant boy, his acting as if the police cars were toys seemed to come out of nowhere, and contrasted with his treating everyone else with respect. It also felt like the actions of a younger child. I really enjoyed the celebration of books in this story. However, I wasn't sure I believed Jay's abrupt transition from TV addict to avid reader. I wanted just a little more attention and detail on Jay switching from TV to loving books, to help make it seem more believable. I also wasn't sure I believed how quickly Jay turned into a giant after he'd started to read. At times it felt like there were brief gaps in the story. Jay and his mother address each other formally; some readers may find this unusual or offputting, while others may relate to it (Jay calls his mother both "Mom" and "ma'am," and Jay's mother calls him "son".). THere's a lot of text in this picture book, so it may be more suited for older or more mature readers. I was left wanting a tiny bit more closure, to wrap things up with Jay and his family on an emotional note--but that could just be me. Overall, the book was quite satisfying. This is an enjoyable fantasy that encourages readers to read--suggesting that they become giants with all the stories they ingest, and making that literal in the book. Galey's ( )mixed media illustrations (which appear to be pencil and tempera) are Galey depicts TV-watching Jay as suitable tired, dissociated, dumbed out, and overly sated by books; that looks is familiar to people who've watched a few hours of TV non-stop. It's lovely how the characters from each of his books are huge next to Jay as he reads.
-Added June 13, 2007
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