cover image Word Builder

Word Builder

Ann Whitford Paul, , illus. by Kurt Cyrus. . Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-3981-8

Construction devotees will adore the first half of this tall-format book, ostensibly about building: Cyrus (Tangle Town ) combines ginormous-scaled, blocky images with loving detail (the ropiness of poured concrete, the tangle of cord attached to a jackhammer’s air compressor). They’ll also envy the boy in the hardhat who’s confidently doing all the work. But readers may have trouble figuring out what exactly is being built. The concept: words, sentences and paragraphs are the building blocks of books. But as the components are absorbed into the whole, they lose their distinctiveness, and the end product—a vaguely Mediterranean fairy-tale village to illustrate “a whole world of book”—is disappointing. Paul’s (The Seasons Sewn ) poem presents another problem. The short lines impede narrative momentum, and the figures of speech (“Mortar each sentence/ with punctuation,/ then frame your sentences/ into paragraph villages”) may be too abstract for this audience. Ages 5–7. (Feb.)