|David Macaulay's Shortcut|
Written and illustrated by David Macaulay
Houghton Mifflin, a Walter Lorraine Book, 1995, Fiction, ages 5 and up
Note: This book is actually 64 pages, but only about 450 words. It is classified as a picture book by the publisher and most book sites.
Humor, Cause and Effect
"Albert and June are up early. It is market day.
Once a week they take their ripest melons into town. As they cross the bridge, Albert and June always make a wish."
This book is a comedy of errors told through the eyes of no less than 7 characters. It is a humorous blend of spare, straight-forward wording and comic illustrations. Albert travels to town to sell watermelons with his horse, June. Patty must find her best friend Pearl the pig, who has mysteriously disappeared. Professor Tweet has a mishap while bird-watching. The elderly Sybil motors through the countryside wreaking havoc. Poor Bob is just trying to take a nap. Characters unwittingly twist in and out of each others' lives shaping the course of events throughout the day. It is business as usual for some and blissful happy endings for others.
What I Love:
This book is unusual in its format. At 64 pages, some might consider it a chapter book, but it reads like a picture book, with the illustrations carrying most of the story and all of the humor. Multiple storylines are easily managed and gradually revealed as Macaulay carefully lays clues in every page to what lies ahead. Readers will feel giddy and triumphant by turns as they learn the principles of cause and effect, foreshadowing, and the subtleties of dry humor. The pacing of the illustrations gives the book a comic book feel. It is thoroughly fun the first or the twentieth time.
2. You can find a teachers' guide for Shortcut at TeachingBooks.net.
4. Craft a hot air balloon, grow a watermelon, go for a picnic, take up bird-watching, just like the characters in the book.
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for November 8, 2013, available on the Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.