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Book Reviews New picture books from Eric Morse and Anny Yi, Wallace Edwards and Karin LeFranc and Tyler Parker

What Is Punk?

By Eric Morse, illustrated by Anny Yi, Black Sheep, 32 pages, $21.95

As a father, I always worry that I'm not passing down enough wisdom. I'm not devote or handy, so I'm not giving them religious ceremonies or the secrets of plumbing. But reading What is Punk? to Phoenix and Frida made me feel as if I was passing on something truly significant. Morse and Yi have created a comprehensive and articulate, if slightly American-biased, documentary about the roots of punk rock. My kids are hooked on Taylor Swift, which is fine. But this book became my way of giving them the perspective that pop music can be something more, a force for political and social change. I know it's only rock 'n' roll but they liked it.

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Once Upon A Line

By Wallace Edwards, Pajama Press, 32 pages, $19.95

Giant circus frogs eat their trainers, robots ice-skate on frozen ponds, a dinosaur hatches out of a balloon held by a king: we were already in love with this book even before the high concept set in. And that high concept is how the author's uncle left a trunk full of his drawings, all of which he started by sketching the same squiggly line. You have to find the line in the picture and finish his story. The test of any high-concept book is the execution and Edwards totally pulls it off, creating a sort of If On A Winter's Night A Traveller for the under-10 set. I suspect this book will live near the top of our favourites pile for quite some time.

I Want To Eat Your Books

By Karin LeFranc and Tyler Parker, Sky Pony Press, 32 pages, $23.99

I'm always telling Phoenix and Frida that reading is joyful and magical, when sometimes I suspect I really think of it as something medicinal, an activity I almost have to almost con them into loving. This is where I Want to Eat Your Books knocks it out of the park. There's nothing sacred or touchy-feely about this story about a zombie who bursts into a library, starts eating the books, then realizes that reading them is more fun. This is exactly why it works. Phoenix loved the idea of a book-eating zombie and immediately started repeating the title in a zombie voice. Frida began looking at her books like they were something to save. Perfect!

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