magine, if you will, a world where not everyone's brain is the same.
In this world, not every brain processes inputs in the same way. A sunbeam, for instance, makes one person smile, one person write a corny song, one person squint, and another one sneeze.
In this imaginary world, some people take to music, some to art, some to sports, some to Farmville.
But all must learn to read, of course, because reading is the golden ticket, magic key, philosopher's stone, and a federally mandated part of state standards testing. B
ut could it be possible that not everyone will like to read the same thing?
I'm not referring to the different flavors of reading: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, vampires, et cetera...
I'm referring to the formats: graphic novels, hybrid mid-grades, endless gray walls of text, et cetera...
In this loony, upside-down-world, some people actually prefer books with pictures to the books with the endless gray walls of text. Yes, even when those gray walls of text are full of lyrical description, enchanting rhythms, pitch-perfect portraits, cunning observation, charming similes, and other combinations of words that their English teachers love.
In fact—and remember this is only an imaginary fact—these readers with a different sort of brain dislike some books precisely BECAUSE of all that stuff.
You see, in this world, a 230-word paragraph describing, say, the physical appearance of the main character's second-best friend, Jojo, does not actually produce in some brains a picture of that character. It produces instead an urgent desire to close the book and play video games.
Other people with other sorts of brains do get the picture, but really don't care what Jojo looks like. They just wish Jojo would do something instead of standing around all day being sun-dappled. Y
es, only on an alien plant could this be possible—that the book one person loves so much for the gorgeous, lyrical writing, might be completely impenetrable to somebody else BECAUSE of the gorgeous, lyrical writing.
There might simply be someone out there who gets nothing at all from description no matter how luscious the language. And, surprisingly, no amount of testing them about the hair color of the second-best friend can fix their brain for them.
We, as aliens to this strange world, might call such a person a reluctant reader. But really it's just a kid who is reluctant to read about what Jojo's hair looks like or what shade the sky in Taco Town was that fateful day. The same kid may be very very non-reluctant to read about what Jojo DID in Taco Town on that fateful day. They just never get there.
But imagine there was a type of book that gave that kid what she wanted. What if it showed a picture of Jojo and Jojo's hair and you could see Taco Town in the background and the reader could see all this in a glance and jump straight to the fateful part of the fateful day?
And then there is another type of book called a hybrid, that does have some blocks of text—maybe so we could find out what Jojo wrote in his diary about that day—but replaced most of the description with pictures. N
ow comes the hardest part to imagine. Stay with me, folks…
Imagine that the people on this planet see nothing wrong with this.
The kid’s parents and teachers AREN'T trying to make him/her move on from comics and hybrids to "real" books.
Incredibly, these people fail to harass their younglings over the format of book they choose!
Shockingly, the quality of a story actually trumps its format on this bizarro world!
Scandalously, the prize for the "most distinguished contribution to children's literature" could go to a book that shows a picture of moldy cheese or a girl's messed up smile instead of describing them with words!
Now, before we return to the sanity of our own world, imagine one last thing:
Imagine that a book is a book, and that it's not instantly better because someone spelled out their vision in words rather than pictures. Tom Angleberger is the bestselling author of the Origami Yoda series, which includes THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA and DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK. The latest installment, THE SECRET OF THE FORTUNE WOOKIE, was released earlier this month. Tom is also the author of HORTON HALFPOTT and FAKE MUSTACHE. He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with his wife, the author-illustrator Cece Bell. Visit him online at www.OrigamiYoda.com.
© 2012 Tom Angleberger. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise. Back to School Book Reviews IRA 58th Annual Convention in San Antonio