By Jon and Tucker Nichols
Signed and personalized copy available from McSweeney's McMullens
Available elsewhere Nov 19, 2013
CRABTREE is the story of Alfred Crabtree, a man who has lost his teeth and much find them among the many things he owns. The summary reminded me of HARRY HOYLE'S GIANT JUMPING BEAN, one of my niece and nephew's favorites.
I'm glad I gave it a chance, because I loved CRABTREE and think it's perfect for the niece and nephew. The art took a few pages to grow on me, but it actually reminds me of children's drawings. The simplicity is somewhat deceptive, but it looks like line art slightly messily colored in by markers, which is very approachable. And I love how much there is to look at on every page. I'm sure after having to go through the book discussing what everything is multiple times I'll love it less.
One of the best touches is the labels marking what each object is. Some are straightforward, like a gold hat labeled "golf." Others are more whimsical, like the chef's hat labeled "I cook only scrambled eggs in this hat." It adds a lot of extra interest. Plus, the dustcover unfolds into a giant poster. A giant poster chock full of objects to find and name. It's a little bit of I SPY with an actual narrative.
And the story, while simple, does have a decent lesson. I mean, children's books don't have to have lessons, but it's got some decent basic life advice. When you lose things, go through your belongings bit by bit, organizing and putting away things that aren't the object you're looking for. You'll find it eventually.
I think CRABTREE is a book many adults will enjoy reading with kids. It's a format that's appealing to kids and provides new excitement and discoveries upon rereads. (It's also good for counting and colors!) I think there's enough humor to keep the adults entertained through several readings. I really like this one.