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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wumbers, writt10 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ed by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books, 2012. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"4give me,
4 this is bel8ed,
but it seems once again
I have overinfl8ed."

Oh my gosh, my brain is working overtime trying to think of even MORE 'wumbers'. I'm sure it will be on my mind as I go about my day and will certainly be first and foremost as I write this post.

Their dedication reads: "We dedic8 this book 2 William Steig, the cre8or of C D B! (cer10ly the inspiration for this book) and so many other cla6." I hope they wanted us to see that 'for' could also have been numerated (is that a word?). If not, I was just too attuned to wumberful thinking when I got to the end of the book and read it. It is addicting, don't you think?

I clearly remember the delight that my own kids and my kids at school exhibited when we first shared C D B! and C D C? when I discovered them in the early 1980s. It was such a great way to get them thinking outside the box, and really looking at words. It is not surprising that these collaborators who love and honor wordplay would find another way to exhibit their talents.

The fun begins in the endpapers:

"Are you usually prompt, or do you 10d 2 be l8 and keep others w8ting?"

You get the addiction? It WILL be on my mind all day long. The words used are not always simple. Vocabulary becomes quite sophisticated on some of the pages, and will require careful thought at times. That is the beauty of the will appeal to a wide range of readers and encourage many to take their own shot at this cool concept. If you listen carefully, you will hear readers trying out the inventive text, and offering a smug smile of satisfaction when they succeed in unravelling the mystery on each page.

Using ink, pastels, bright eye-catching color, and expressive faces, Tom Lichtenheld helps when help is needed. His illustrations create small vignettes that perfectly match the text's wordplay. Lest you think this will just encourage even more abbreviated communication than Twitter feeds and texting already do, think clearly about the knowledge of language and its sounds that young readers will need for often complicated deciphering. Then, see what happens when they give their attention to trying it for themselves. I'm off to do some of my own 'wumbering'!

To quote the collaborators: "2dles" and "L8er allig8or!"

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