Author: Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrator: Jared Chapman
Age Range: 4-6
Wordplay, written by Adam Lehrhaupt (Chicken in Space) and illustrated by Jared Chapman (Pirate, Viking & Scientist), is an introduction to the parts of speech for preschoolers and early elementary school kids, shared in the form of a quirky story. Basically Verb does things, but Noun can be things. When a peanut gallery consisting of Interjection, Adjective, and Adverb admires Noun a little too much, Verb gets jealous. But when a bee threatens the changeable but inert Noun, guess who is there to save the day? In the end, Noun and Verb figure out that they can do a lot more by playing together.
Obviously, this is all very contrived. But it does rather work. Here's a snippet:
"Everyone watches Verb.
"Wow!" says Interjection.
"An impressive display," says Adverb.
"Very graceful," says Adverb.
Verb is happy."
In the above example, Interjection's name and text are shown in purple, matching his color (see cover image above). Similarly for the yellow adjective and orange adverb. Interjection's "WOW!" is shown in a bigger font than everything else. This consistent visual reinforcement continues throughout the book. Verb, of course, is red, shown in constant movement. Noun is blue and has an odd head shape, but also a friendly smile. They all have rather pig-like noses, in what seems to be Chapman's style, but they are surprisingly cute anyway. The bee is quite menacing:
"BEE!" says Interjection.
"A giant, frightening bee!" says Adjective.
"It's coming dangerously close," says Adverb."
You get the idea.
Wordplay would be a great addition to any preschool to first grade classroom where the teacher is introducing parts of speech. It would make a good next-stage companion to Mike Boldt's 123 versus ABC and Colors versus Shapes books, albeit with a slightly less madcap storyline. Wordplay is a bit gimmicky, of course, but I like that there is a story - it's not just some dry explanation of parts of speech. It's also a celebration of friendship, which is always welcome for this age range. Wordplay is fun and, well, playful, and well worth a look for schools and libraries. Recommended.
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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