Book: Ann and Nan Are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma
Author: Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Age Range: 5-8
Word-loving kids often go through a phase of appreciating anagrams. Many word-loving adults (present company included) never leave that phase. And so it is that I quite appreciate Ann and Nan Are Anagrams by Mark Shulman. This book is just one extended celebration of all things anagram. The narrative is a bit madcap, but at least there is one. Mostly, though, this book defines anagrams, and then gives pages and pages of examples. They start out pretty simple, and get a bit more complex throughout the course of the book. Like this:
"Anagrams are easy to SPOT
but hard to STOP."
"Then, DOWN THE STREET in THE DESERT TOWN,
what I SAW WAS ... a DINER, IN RED.
The publisher uses fonts and text colors to highlight the anagram pairs, which is necessary, because some of them are relatively subtle. (In the last example above, there are three anagram pairs). There are, in fact, tiny anagrams sprinkled everywhere throughout the book. The aforementioned diner serves "CURLY FRIES" and "FLY CURRIES" as well as "LEMONS" and "MELONS". The pantry of the Grandma in the story is filled with things like "RAIN VEG VINEGAR". There are occasional quiet conversational exchanges like "AYE?" "YEA!".
Mark Shulman also wrote one of my favorites, Gorilla Garage, which has a similar sense of playful fun. And I have to conclude that he got a bit carried away with the anagrams in the book, and couldn't stop himself, either. This is a book that will encourage kids to see anagrams everwhere, too.
Adam McCauley's mixed media illustrations add to the fun, ranging from icon-like (tops and pots, a spot and a stop sign) to quirky ("She's A NUT" is illustrated by an acorn with clearly feminine features). Everything is rendered in bold primary colors, and with energetic, varied fonts and words at interesting angles. The red-headed, blue-eyed narrator has an odd, flag-like head of hair, but this helps him to stand out, even in silhouette.
Ann and Nan Are Anagrams is not a picture book that you'll want to read aloud to your two year old before bed. Too much of following the book is visual for it to be a great read-aloud. Rather, it's a book that your new young reader will want to pore over (with you or on her own), giggling at the silliness of the examples, but also making connection after connection. If I were, say, homeschooling a first grader, or just trying to keep an early reader engaged and entertained, Ann and Nan Are Anagrams is a book that I would definitely want to add to my collection. Anagrams are hard to resist, and so is this book.
Publisher: Chronicle (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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