Wreck This Picture Book (Hardcover)

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Wreck This Picture Book By Keri Smith Cover Image
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Staff Reviews


One to five stars; everything is rated these days. It goes beyond products. You can rate your professor, your doctor, the medicine you take, the park you visit or even the mountain pass you drive over. According to Google Reviews, Satus Pass is a 4.1 star experience. Snoqualmie—4.4. Five-star rankings are arbitrary, but often exhibit a more outsized influence on our lives than we would like. Small business owners for example, need to monitor Google and Yelp carefully, as a single one-star review can weigh heavier than a dozen five-star reviews. Rankings matter, but who can measure what they really mean? What is the tangible difference between a restaurant pulling a 4.4 star average and another with a 4.7?

It’s the absurdity of rating everything in our lives that serves as the linchpin of John Green’s latest work, “The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human Centered Planet.” Best known for his well-received young adult fiction novels—In 2017 I reviewed his previous book “Turtles All the Way Down” for this column quite favorably—this is Green’s first major foray into adult non-fiction. Across 40 essays, Green reviews—sort of—different aspects of the Anthropocene, the geologic age in which humans saw their rise, and likely fall. It’s quite a potpourri of topics, including Indianapolis (4 out of 5 stars), plague (1/5), air-conditioning (3/5), Canada geese (2/5), and the teddy bear (2.5/5). If it seems like Green is trying a bit too hard to be clever and meta here, that’s because he probably is. One of his biggest strengths is arguably how self-aware he is in his writing, which has made for some sublime genre-bending fiction over the years, but that same self-awareness can hinder him, too.

In the end, the essays aren’t really “reviews” because they rarely stay focused on the merits of the subject at hand. They serve as a jumping off point for Green’s musings about our planet, the beauty and sorrow of living here, and the difficulties of the current global moment we find ourselves collectively enduring as best we can. It makes me wonder if the 5-star gimmick was really necessary at all? Green is famous enough that a collection of his essays would sell well enough without this contrivance. 

As for the reviews/essays themselves, I found them a bit hit or miss. Some I found incredibly poignant and touching, such as his essays on “Halley’s Comet” and “Googling Strangers,” while others failed to leave an impression on me. But such is the nature of the essay collection, different essays will speak to different readers.

If the five-star rating does mean anything, the book seems to be speaking to people. Reviews of “The Anthropocene Reviewed” average 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon (n = 2,265 as of writing), and 4.5 out 5 on Goodreads (n = 12,809), and a #1 place on the New York Times Bestseller List. Perhaps it will speak to you.

As for my personal rating of “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” I’ll abstain. Not everything needs to be placed on a five-star scale.

— JT Menard

Description


An Indie Next List Selection

Keri Smith, creator of the mega-bestselling Wreck This Journal, now brings her imagination and inspiration to children with this picture book that explores the very active experience of reading.


What if there were a book that changed every time you read it?

Actually, every book does this. We are all part of the books we read, because our individual reactions, ideas, and emotions make the book whole, and these things are changing all the time. Keri Smith has helped millions of people free their creativity and find their own voice with her interactive books, and now she brings that sensibility to children and to the act of reading. This picture book is an invitation to honor your own vision and to welcome imperfection. Kids will discover that reading can engage all five senses, and that what they themselves bring to a book is an important contribution. (And of course they'll be invited to do a bit of harmless "wrecking"!)

About the Author


Keri Smith is a bestselling author, illustrator, and thinker. Her books include Wreck This Journal, The Wander Society, This is Not a Book, How to Be an Explorer of the World, Mess, Finish This Book, The Pocket Scavenger, Wreck This Journal Everywhere, Everything Is Connected, and The Imaginary World of... as well as Wreck This App, This is Not an App, and the Pocket Scavenger app. She enjoys spending time with her husband, experimental musician Jefferson Pitcher, and two children.


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593111024
ISBN-10: 0593111028
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020
Pages: 64
Language: English