All About Faces! By La Zoo is an “everything but the kitchen sink” concept book about the face. The book will appeal to parents who are already design conscious (think dooce, daddytypes or mightygirl) and are sure to like the adorable, distinctly Japanese illustrations. But from a librarian standpoint there's just too much going on to recommend it widely for libraries.
Author Zoo uses the face as a mode of discussing shapes, facial expressions, and emotions. Parents will want to read this one-on-one with kids since Zoo uses words like: disdain, jubilation, and dissatisfaction. (They might also want to have a thesaurus ready when trying to explain some of those listed emotions to little ones.) Zoo then jumps to the anatomy of the face, with a lift-the-flap page showing bones (the general idea, not the Grey’s Anatomy version), eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. On the next page readers get to check out some things that come out of ears (wax), eyes (tears), noses (boogers), and mouths (slobber). This is sure to get some squeals and laughs.
And then we come to my least favorite part of this book: the coloring page. Zoo writes, “My mother’s face changes sometimes. But my face doesn’t.” What could the author be getting at here? It turns out Zoo is talking about mothers who apply make-up and includes a page where the reader can draw "make-up" on a blank female child’s face with a crayon. Instructions indicate that the crayon can be wiped off with a tissue from the slick surface of this particular page. Frankly, I didn’t try because I can’t imagine crayon would be that easily wiped away. From a librarian standpoint I really don’t want to order any book that invites readers to draw on even one page. It’s pretty difficult to explain to kids why they can’t color on the rest…Thus, the coloring page is the single greatest reason I can't recommend it for the library.
After the coloring page, Zoo returns to facial colors (red with embarrassment); more emotions (smiling and frowning); ways to play pretend by changing your face (“Give yourself a mustache and pretend to be a grown-up.”) [Note: I just waxed mine, but perhaps I’ll grow it out and see if the kids at the library will recognize me.]; expressions using the word “face” (A long face); the way a face changes as it ages; and, finally, a matching game (find the “twin sister” face in the crowd). There is a lot of content and several concepts in All About Faces and some are more effective than others. I think it would work for parents looking for a book about emotions and feelings, but young readers will want someone to read this with them to explain the big words. It’s a terrific browsing book in terms of cool, funky illustrations and lots of bang for the buck – colors, feelings, shapes, patterns – but it just doesn’t hang all together effectively and, in my opinion, wouldn’t be a good fit on the library’s concept book shelf. The perfect home for All About Faces! is probably with a sophisticated toddler with hipster parents and not the public library.
If you sense some ambivalence, you're right. I enjoyed flipping through this one and am so grateful Seven Footer was nice enough to give me a copy at ALA Midwinter, but...for many libraries this book just isn't a good fit.