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Book Reviews

Have I Got a Book for You!

by Melanie Watt

The title of Mélanie Watt’s newest picture book pretty much says it all. Have I Got a Book for You! is a self-reflexive and broadly comic parody of self-promotion that invites its young readers to become critical consumers of advertising.

Mr. Al Foxword, salesrat, makes a hyped-up pitch for the very book in our hands. Al’s previous customers include a mole (buyer of the Deluxe Dirt Vacuum), a fish (happy purchaser of an umbrella), and a penguin (proud of his latest acquisition, a fridge).

Watt lays out Al’s pitch with characteristically zesty design and exaggerated, colourful cartoon images, playing off the stereotype of the sleazy salesman with plaid jacket, bow tie, and toupée. Throughout, she sends up advertising claims and sales pressure. (“Buy now! Quantities are limited!” “What’s better than this book? TWO books!!!”)

In the small print on the back page, Watt thanks her editor “for buying into all my ideas, especially this cheesy one,” ­­leaving the reader laughing, or perhaps feeling like an idiot for having forked over $17.95. This reviewer is definitely in the former category.