Illustrator Lane Smith (Squids Will Be Squids, Three Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man) employs delightful collage techniques, using a paper-doll cutout for the cowboy and an octopus snipped from a comic strip. Their stances never change throughout the book, and the result somehow brings to mind Flat Stanley. Photography and watercolors add to the visual mix. Some parents will recognize the toys of their youth on the pages: The Tinker Toy teeter-totter and swing set will certainly spark memories and conversation.
Just last month, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Scieszka as the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. For my money, it's none too soon, and this first-time-ever position bodes well for children's literature. As a former teacher (turned full-time author), Scieszka has a penchant for education, along with his gift for writing children's books. His foray into telling stories with words and pictures has impacted children's literature through his sheer popularity. Consequently, he can exert considerable influence regarding the appreciation for and promotion of young people's literature at the national level. He'll be a great ambassador.
Parents may also check out Scieszka's Website (jsworldwide.com) for a delicious romp through his wacky world.