cover image Max's Words

Max's Words

Kate Banks, , illus. by Boris Kulikov. . FSG/Foster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39949-8

Both clever and funny, Banks's (And if the Moon Could Talk ) inventive picture book features literal and rambunctious word play. Max's brothers, Benjamin and Karl, each have impressive collections (stamps and coins, respectively). They laugh at Max when he decides to collect words. Kulikov's (Morris the Artist ) clever illustrations feature Max's hundreds of words in different colors and fonts, sprinkled across the pages like confetti (at one point the boy is literally knee-deep in them). When Max's collection grows too large for his desk, he begins separating words into piles and realizes that, "when [he] puts his words in different orders, it made a big difference." (Writing "A blue crocodile ate the green iguana ," he discovers, is very different from writing "The blue iguana ate a green crocodile .") When Max, with his hedgehog hair and thoughtful expressions, starts to write a story of his own about a worm and a crocodile, the real fun begins. Benjamin and Karl, always pictured as stuffy banker types with slicked-down hair and wearing vests, add sentences so the crocodile will eat Max's worm hero, and Max must race to find a sentence that will save his invented character. Banks's economically told tale brims with wit, and Kulikov's splashy illustrations easily keep the story Max writes from being confused with the overall plot. Readers and writers alike will enjoy the linguistic fun in this nearly word-perfect book. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)