Wordplay: Ivan Brunetti’s Children’s Book
Ivan Brunetti, a cartoonist whose early works’ titles included Misery Loves Comedy and Schizo, is now reaching a new audience. (It’s not his first redirection: he’s also done covers for The New Yorker.) Wordplay is a hardcover comic for grades K-1 guaranteed to show how fun playing with language can be.
In its 30 pages, children (with perfectly round heads, a quirk of Brunetti’s style) learn from their teacher and parents about compound words.
The grammar lesson takes full advantage of the illustrated format by showing, for example, what a kid might imagine when hearing “housework”, with a house dusting. As the students think of more compound words, we’re shown multiple levels of language meaning. That also explains the terrific title.
I did wonder about the inclusion of old-fashioned, gender-role-based words like “mailman” and “milkmaid” that kids are either unlikely to hear or society’s moving away from. The later “handyman” seemed a much better choice.
Other than that, Wordplay was a cute way to learn about a certain type of language, with plenty of creative words and images to inspire imagination and learning. And unlike some of Toon’s other Level 1 books, this one is also a real comic, with word and thought balloons and great story flow. (The publisher provided a review copy.)