For The Whole Family
By Zack Zage
Ivy Court Press, $16.95, 32 pages
Rare is the children’s book that both kids and their parents can enjoy. Zack Zage’s Ambition’s Not An Awful Word is just such a book. When fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Grundy, asks her class what they want to be, a certain Zack Zage, bursting with ideas, shouts, “Me first, me first!” Moving down the alphabet leaves him last, but he enthusiastically announces his ambitions, which range from astronaut, to singer, to banker – always the most skilled, famous and fabulous of careers. Yet one by one, each dream is shot down as ridiculous. He returns home defeated, but his mother reminds him that ambition is not an awful word.
“If I were a singer, I would sing before the Queen, Be the best basso profundo, this world has ever seen.”
In charming and occasionally awkward rhyme, Zage entertains kids with fantastical ideas, such as building a new Great Wall from Montreal to Houston, while appealing to their parents with references such as legislat[ing] you healthy in Congress. Many ideas are beyond the comprehension of the child audience and therefore are explained in a hilarious, adult-geared glossary. The wonderfully expressive watercolor illustrations also maintain that duplicity of audience. This book has great educational value if parents are willing to explain all the terms and take to heart that big dreams are precious.
Reviewed by Andrea Klein