Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

Guess Again by Mac Barnett

Flamingoes are born that wonderful shade of pink or reddish orange. Or are they? And if you think that joint about half-way up their leg is the knee, well, guess again. (1. Flamingoes are born gray or white. It can take up to three years for their color to change. 2. That knee joint? It is not a knee but the ankle. The knee is not visible because it is close to the body, hidden by the feathers).

Thus we are launched into this very smart book. The first quatrain talks of a carrot-stealer whose hair is soft, and teeth are hard, and floppy ears are long and funny. The accompanying spread shows the silhouette of a rabbit in a field of carrots.

“Can you guess who? That’s right! My…”

"bunny", shout the young readers. You turn the page to confirm. Of course it is a bunny, till we see it is not. Smart, smart Adam Rex. He has Grandpa Ned doing a headstand, so his picture would fit absolutely, exactly on the silhouette. Tricked.

Alright then. Lets move on. Now we are sort of prepared. Things may not be what they seem (an important lesson. Thank you Mac Barnett and Adam Rex for teaching that in such a fun way). But can we guess correctly? Another important life skill – using the information available to predict the outcome.

So tricky are the verses and pictures that we fail, again and again. Why, one spread talks of a pesky counter-climbing cheese-eater. The picture shows a mouse-trap with a cube of cheese, a mouse hole cutout, through which we see a mousy something. Nailed it this time. Not really. The mousy something was a giant Viking’s toe. Foiled again.

Guess its easy to see how the book can become a favorite of the younger set. Misdirections abound – look at the first letters of the verse: a T in the shape of a sweater, the ball of wool that unravels to create the letter H, the cheesy W and the letter W that looks like a beehive. The ending, not that I will give it away, is the greatest trick of all.

Reached the end? Close the book but don’t put it away yet. See that large red question mark and the writing on the bottom. Shades of Da Vinci; you’ll need a mirror to read it. Pure genius.

Title: Guess Again

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Adam Rex

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Hardback: 26 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5566-5