Book Review: Gallop! A Scanimation Picture Book
The second entry in Webster’s New World Dictionary for the word “gimmick” reads as follows:
“An attention-getting device or feature, typically superficial, designed to promote the success of a product, campaign, etc.”
This definition makes me wonder, “what constitutes a children’s literature gimmick?” Does anything besides the words printed on the page fall into the category of “attention-getting device”? A shiny cover? Flashing lights? What about pop-up books? Those are just one giant gimmick, right?
“Ahhem!” (The sound of someone clearing their throat)
Wait. What’s that? Call me crazy, but I think I hear the voice of famous paper engineer Robert Sabuda…
Robert: Pop-up books are not a “gimmick”, my friend.
Scope Notes: Well, I think I agree, but why?
Robert: Because their gimmick defines their genre.
Scope Notes: Come again?
Robert: Let me break it down for you: the pictures pop up, hence the name pop-up books. Do you see a genre called “shiny cover books”?
Scope Notes: I think I’m getting it. If the “attention-getting device” in question is really, really cool, that does the trick.
Robert: No. A gimmick transcends its label when it moves beyond acting as a superficial add-on. It must become an integral part of the story.
Scope Notes: Okay, I think I have it. Thanks, Robert!
The gimmick in “Gallop! A Scanimation Picture Book” truly transcends. A perfect marriage of story and execution. Scanimation is a technology that makes pictures appear as if they were moving; a poor man’s animation, if you will. Each page of the simple text asks the reader a new question about movement: “Can you gallop like a horse?”, “Can you swim like a turtle?”, and so on. Meanwhile, a Scanimation panel shows the reader each animal, fluidly moving in their own distinctive way as the page is turned. Indeed, “Gallop!” wouldn’t be as effective without this remarkable device. Sure to be a winner with youngsters far and wide, and a great choice for a holiday gift.
The third entry in Webster’s New World Dictionary for the word “gimmick” reads as follows:
“any clever little gadget or ruse”
I think from now on I’ll refer to this entry when discussing “Gallop!”, and leave the gimmickry stuff out of the conversation. It just doesn’t apply here.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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