Me, Watch TV?
In the fictional children’s book Me, Watch TV? by Michael Hickman, our young main character serves as an instrument for teaching an important lesson about the richness that life has to offer away from the television. Hiking, cooking, and spending time with family are just a few of the wonderful cited alternatives to the television screen. Though some of the illustrations are distorted, these bold, yet simple, depictions against blue and green backdrops serve as story enhancers and are sure to—at least initially—capture the attention of eager young readers who are just learning to read independently or who still need some assistance with reading. Coupled with just a few words on most pages, the styling of the book is appropriate to its target audience. Unfortunately, both in illustrations and in content, however, there is an age inconsistency throughout the book, rendering a good deal of the content irrelevant and confusing for the intended readership. Illustratively, in one picture the main character is shown to be perched on a stepstool in order to reach the bathroom sink to brush his teeth. Yet, in another, he is depicted as being only a foot or two shorter than the height of a standard basketball hoop. Content-wise as well, the main character is bathing with his rubber ducky in one scene and helping his little sister with homework in the next. In a few instances the flow of the story is hindered with too much wordiness in the activity descriptions. Short, simple explanations here work best. The apple-picking explanation is one such example. The black-and-red color scheme in the text, however, does reconcile the flow issue to a limited extent. If not for the ironic placement of televisions in about a half dozen of the illustrations and if not for the similar irony of twice featuring a television in the main character’s bedroom, Me, Watch TV? by Michael Hickman may have had some utility as a cursory beginning exposure to the world outside the television, even for the very young. But, the age inconsistency and the complicated wording further compromise the integrity of the message, likely leaving young readers disinterested in the book as a whole.
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