“A Toon Book” written by Art Spielgelman is aimed at early readers and tells the story of three rabbits. There is a Mom rabbit, a Dad rabbit and a boy rabbit named Jack. They walk on two feet, live in a house like a human family, dress like a human family and act human in every way including getting a jack in the box type toy for their son.
It pops open the first time and badly scares Jack. Mom and Dad laugh it off and say “what a silly toy” while a clearly shaken Jack thanks them both for their gift.
Over the next several pages readers see Jack trying to play with the toy and the popup creature coming out at different times scaring as well as pleasing Jack. Jack expresses frustration in several cartoon panels as the toy does not always act in the way Jack expects. This is because his name is Zack and he is a silly toy.
This eventually leads to Zack getting free of his box. Once out he unleashes a friend named Mack who has a pet duck. The large pet duck has lots of little ducks and soon the lamp in Jack’s bedroom is broken by the chaos of more and more ducks. It is replaced by Mack; order is restored with everything back in the box. Mom and Dad come to check on Jack after hearing all the noise and Jack explains all that has happened. They all realize Zack is a silly toy and walk off together laughing and leaving the toy on the bedroom floor.
While cleverly done in terms of text and illustrations this book’s message is disturbing. Clearly Jack is threatened by the toy and is still scared when he thanks his parents for it. An action that isn’t all positive in that it would appear he is doing an obligatory thank you through his heart really isn’t into it.
Then readers are treated to not only Jack repeatedly frustrated with his attempts to play with the toy, Zack is drawn almost as a nightmare in most panels. There is a weird cross eyed look to the thing with a wide open mouth full of teeth along with the fact that it frequently leers over Jack in a maniac and threatening manner.Â It too expresses hostility and frequently refuses requests from Jack before finally unleashing pandemonium at the end of the book. It redeems itself somewhat by replacing what was broken but leaves the reader disturbed and in mind of Pandora’s Box.
Like any children’s book, whether this book works or not really depends on the child involved. Depending on the child’s temperament, this book is clearly not going to be suitable. Parents and caregivers may also be disturbed by the images of Zack and the mixed messages found in the book. While the language is appropriate for the targeted audience, there is no cuteness to the story or text and the illustrations are often not appropriate and are very disturbing.
Therefore, this book should be examined very carefully before purchase.
Jack And The Box
The Little Lit Library (division of Raw Junior, LLC)
October 21, 2008
Â As a member of the Amazon Vine Program, this book was sent to me in exchange for my objective review.Â
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008