ANYTHING BUT A GRABOOBERRY

Anushka Ravishankar, Author, Rathna Ramanathan, Illustrator . Tara $14.95 (48p) ISBN 978-81-86211-43-4

Ravishankar (Tiger on a Tree ) and Ramanathan create a book that's part typeface puzzle and part nonsense verse. Orange-red and grass-green type is stretched and enlarged on the cream-white pages, and words become text-pictures that imply material objects. There is no story, just a disembodied voice exclaiming, "I want to be a beehive/ Hanging on a tree/ or a beeeeeeeeee/ or a pea/ or a cup of tea." "Beehive" is spelled out in a grid of hexagons, the Es of "bee" (two pages later) seem to fly into the distance and the rounded "P" in "cup" looks like a handle. The unseen narrator willingly ponders many identities, such as "a pie or a tie/ or a dotted abcdefghI jk," but stops short of one: "any thing/ anything I'd like to be/ but please please please not a/ grabooooberry." This made-up word, repeated three times, never gets defined. But in the warped and stretched word play, the creators extend the Os to suggest a scary "boo," separate the "grab" and "berry," and turn two of the Os into oversize (dare one say breastlike?) eyeballs. A foreword claims that the book "uses type in a new way—as illustration," but this strategy is hardly fresh, given the variety of ABC books, ads and visual experiments such as A Poke in the I and CDB! The rhyme is punchy, and the zingy green and red form a complementary combo, but the pages lack the exuberance to compete with other efforts in kinetic typography. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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