Jason Koivu's Reviews > Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
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did not like it
bookshelves: reviewed-with-emma

* * * Read and Reviewed by Me & My Niece Emma * * *

Emma has real doubts about that title. I fought for Richard Scarry, but I'm afraid the 5 year old girl might be right.

Scarry's cartoony fantasy land populated with eyelid-less, anthropomorphic animals was absolutely beloved by yours truly when I was but a wee lad. However, this incarnation has none of the sense of fun found in the Scarry books I read as a boy. Nothing, I mean nothing out of the ordinary happens in Best.... In the Scarry books of my youth, the characters got into all kinds of zany japery. I recall one high-larious episode in which an ape went for a joy ride that turned the town upside down!

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(In retrospect, I think the ape was a watch thief.)

This...thing is nothing more than animal people doing nothing untoward, just normal day-to-day activities: waking up in the morning, playing on the playground, building things, farming, going shopping, etc. There are pages of airplanes, cars, zoo animals, firefighters, things you'd find at the beach, and facial expressions. Each page is filled with these items. Each item has its word beside it. Each page has one short, explanatory paragraph with such "riveting" prose as:

School is fun. There are so many things we learn to do. Kathy Bear is learning how to find a lost mitten.

OH MY GOODNESS! Call out the National Guard! Someone get the Bureau of Lost Mittens on the line!

Holy hell, talk about boring.

Not only is this book fun-free, I couldn't even find my favorite character Lowly, an earthworm in a dashing little hat.
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Aside from a logo on the cover, Lowly doesn't seem to appear in the book at all. Each page is so very busy that perhaps I missed him, but I looked and looked for such a long while that Emma went off to entertain herself elsewhere and came back some time later asking, "Did you find him?!" Yes, that exclamation point is necessary. Emma possesses an "indoor voice," but likes to know she's being heard.

Okay, so clearly Best... is meant to be a book for learning purposes, but did it have to be so purposefully dull? One reason my be that this was one of the author's very early books. I'm no Richard Scarry scholar, but it would seem he started off staid and later amped up the good times.

Whether you were born in the '60s or the '00s, kids like fun, and so for this one the Emma-o-meter registered utter disinterest.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 15, 2015 – Shelved
July 15, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Grafakos (new)

Grafakos I have fond memories of studying big complex 2-page illustrations such as this one and this one from What Do People Do All Day? OK, looking at it now, I can see that the captions were pretty simple (I guess they have to be, for kids just learning to read), but the pictures had so much detail that each one was a small collection of stories in itself. But maybe only some of the books were like that - What Do People Do All Day? is the only one I can still remember.

Lowly was my favorite character. Any book without him (he was a him, right?) can't be considered a real Richard Scarry book.


Jason Koivu Grafakos wrote: "I have fond memories of studying big complex 2-page illustrations such as this one and this one from What Do People Do All Day? OK, looking at it now, I can see that the captions were..."

At least with the ship picture you linked there's some fun going on with the wind blowing stuff off the deck. This book had none of that. I'll definitely give another Scarry book a try with Emma. I feel like we just happened upon a dud.


message 3: by Grafakos (new)

Grafakos Hmm, after further research I found that worms are hermaphrodites. So "he" isn't really the correct pronoun. Either "it" or some kind of gender-neutral neologism such as "e" (cf. Spivak pronouns) would be more appropriate. Since the goal is learning about words, Emma might enjoy reflecting upon this, perhaps as a homework assignment. You could point her to the Wiki pages for Hermes and Aphrodite to get started. Bonus points for references to the recent Grexit drama.


Jason Koivu Grafakos wrote: "Hmm, after further research I found that worms are hermaphrodites. So "he" isn't really the correct pronoun. Either "it" or some kind of gender-neutral neologism such as "e" (cf. Spivak pronouns) w..."

She once saw a picture of two men kissing and fell into an almost irreversible fit of laughter. I can't imagine how the concept of the hermaphrodite might affect her.


message 5: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Learning how to find a lost mitten? How do you "learn" that?!? What kind of school is this?!


Jason Koivu Carmen wrote: "Learning how to find a lost mitten? How do you "learn" that?!? What kind of school is this?!"

It's called the School for the Dumb and Boring.


message 7: by Carmen (new)

Carmen LOL :)


message 8: by carol. (new)

carol. how can it not have Lowly? It was like looking for Waldo before Waldo was a dream in Handford's eye...


Jason Koivu Carol. wrote: "how can it not have Lowly? It was like looking for Waldo before Waldo was a dream in Handford's eye..."

I don't know. I can't understand it myself. The world makes a little less sense now...


message 10: by Beka (new)

Beka It makes me miss the Pie-Rats!


message 11: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Browne The joyride by Bananas Gorilla is in Funniest Storybook Ever. This one is basically meant to be an encyclopedia, not a story book.


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