In the age of computers, literacy seems to be falling by the wayside, and Lane Smith’s “Its a Book” pokes not-so-gentle fun at this trend. The monkey is reading a book, the jackass is confused. What is it? Do you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Finally the monkey, presumably worn out by jackass’ ignorance, hands the book over, and the magic spell of literature is cast. It’s a lesson that most of us probably wish they could teach the young people who are so obsessed with communicating in 140 characters or less that their grasp of the language seems to be disintegrating: Put down your cell phone and read a book! Turn off the computer and read a book! Learn something about the world, about history, about literature.
It’s a point well taken, but in all honesty, I don’t see it happening, particularly at this price point. Seriously? $12.99 for a 32-page paperback? And is it a story likely to be taken to heart by children already so computer-focused that they can barely make themselves understood on paper? Perhaps it’s intended for their parents, though I’m cynic enough to believe that it’s unlikely that most will have a sudden epiphany and sit junior down with a book, saying “No computer or texting until you’ve read this and we’ve talked about it.” If you haven’t instilled a love of reading in your child by the time he or she enters school, it’s going to be a hard retrofit.
So while I applaud the message, I’m not at all sure that this book is much more than an expensive little gift book for adults.