Saturday, January 11, 2020

Review - Please Don't Say An X Word

Please Don't Say An X Word
by W. Nikola-Lisa
Date: 2020
Publisher: Gyroscope Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 27
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

In the tradition of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, W. Nikola-Lisa has written a concept picture book that presents the alphabet—all out of order and such—with each page comprised of three letters of the alphabet (very alliterative and funny) ending with the phrase, "Please don't say an X word," which, it is revealed (but only later), are "bad... angry... hurtful..." words (words YOU shouldn't say), leaving the reader to ponder more interesting words, words that are ”silly,” “fancy,” and considerably more “tongue-tickling”—and more appropriate and intellectually stimulating—than the usual four-letter words that we hurl at each other.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book really misses the mark. Look, I love wordplay. Especially when it's done so cleverly in kids' books that it's accessible to young readers as well as older ones. But the concept here is so high that it's going to have a hangover later. What we have here is an alphabet book that's trying to be literary and cute. It doesn't work.

The problem is that X words are never defined, other than that they're the words we use to hurt others. Unfortunately, the rest of the book talks about F words, N words, and S words as "fancy", "nifty", and "silly" (respectively). When you approach a child and say the phrase "F word", what do you think their first thought is going to be? (Hint: probably not "fluffy", "ferocious", or "finagle".) When you attach "word" to a letter of the alphabet, it brings with it a certain connotation (usually negative). The whole premise of the book is based around this (i.e., "X words"), so I don't understand why the author thought that implying that the N word is "nifty" would go over very well.

The book goes on to instruct kids in how to speak to each other:

You know these [X] words...

BAD words.
ANGRY words.
HURTFUL words.

Words YOU shouldn't say.

So the next time you're about to say an X word,
stop and think
(I mean, how'd you like it if someone called you an X word?).

Instead, say
a silly word,
a fancy word...

Did this book seriously just encourage children to use the S and F words?

Seriously. That's F-worded up.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gyroscope Books for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 0.83 out of 5

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