Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
* * * Note: I read and reviewed this along with my 5-year-old niece Emma * * *
Emma has real doubts about that title. I fought for Richard Scarry, but I'm afraid the 5 year old girl might be right.
Scarry's cartoony fantasy land populated with eyelid-less, anthropomorphic animals was absolutely beloved by yours truly when I was but a wee lad. However, this incarnation has none of the sense of fun found in the Scarry books I read as a boy. Nothing, I mean nothing out of the ordinary happens in Best.... In the Scarry books of my youth, the characters got into all kinds of zany japery. I recall one high-larious episode in which an ape went for a joy ride that turned the town upside down!
(In retrospect, I think the ape was a watch thief.)
This...thing is nothing more than animal people doing nothing untoward, just normal day-to-day activities: waking up in the morning, playing on the playground, building things, farming, going shopping, etc. There are pages of airplanes, cars, zoo animals, firefighters, things you'd find at the beach, and facial expressions. Each page is filled with these items. Each item has its word beside it. Each page has one short, explanatory paragraph with such "riveting" prose as:
School is fun. There are so many things we learn to do. Kathy Bear is learning how to find a lost mitten.
OH MY GOODNESS! Call out the National Guard! Someone get the Bureau of Lost Mittens on the line!
Holy hell, talk about boring.
Not only is this book fun-free, I couldn't even find my favorite character Lowly, an earthworm in a dashing little hat.
Aside from a logo on the cover, Lowly doesn't seem to appear in the book at all. Each page is so very busy that perhaps I missed him, but I looked and looked for such a long while that Emma went off to entertain herself elsewhere and came back some time later asking, "Did you find him?!" Yes, that exclamation point is necessary. Emma possesses an "indoor voice," but likes to know she's being heard.
Okay, so clearly Best... is meant to be a book for learning purposes, but did it have to be so purposefully dull? One reason my be that this was one of the author's very early books. I'm no Richard Scarry scholar, but it would seem he started off staid and later amped up the good times.
Whether you were born in the '60s or the '00s, kids like fun, and so for this one the Emma-o-meter registered utter disinterest.
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