14 October 2008

Jack and the Box

Jack and the Box
Art Spiegelman (1/5 stars)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Raw Junior, LLC (October 21, 2008)

In this bizarre, "first comic for brand-new readers", Jack (a rabbit) is given a box as a gift from his parents. What comes out is a creepy, unappealing Jack-in-the-box type character that startles his parents, and scares Jack quite badly. The parents laugh it off and Jack politely thanks them (is this a subtle teaching to not address our fears) and tries to play with the toy. This toy, far from being a positive influence on Jack, brings out anger, fear, and eventually what might be a good time but looks more like a Seuss-ian want-to-be frantic playtime in which a lamp is broken but no one has to face consequences.

Jack and the Box is listed as for ages 4-8. Now, if you've ever been around kids, you know that this is a rather broad age spectrum. What is appropriate for age 4 is not necessarily appropriate for age 8 and vice versa. This book, to my mind, is not suitable for such a broad range. As a matter of a fact, I'm not certain it's suitable for young children at all. Fans of the author, perhaps, or teens that like creepy books, but not for "brand-new readers" as the front cover claims.

If I sound negative about Jack and the Box, it's because I feel negatively towards it. I found it an unpleasant reading experience and would not read it to a child. This opinion is based on several readings (I hoped it would get better), because I don't take it lightly when I give such a negative review. However, I feel that this book is just not right for the age group it's intended--perhaps the author or publisher has no real experience with children?--and that it would genuinely be scary for some. Each individual parent would need to make that decision for their own child, of course. However, even as an adult, reading for only for myself, I was totally unimpressed, and quite a bit creeped out.



Blogger Debi said...

Thanks for the honest review, Medbie! If I'd seen this in the store, I'd have been mighty tempted to pick it up just because it was by Art Spiegelman. And I would have been sorry...I've got two boys in the age range, and from what you said, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have had two very scared little boys!

11:36 AM  
Blogger bethany said...

Oh, so sad that it is scary!! bummer.The art looks fantastic! ahhh.

11:00 PM  

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