What Is An American? (Matt Scott)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What Is An American?, written by Matt Scott and illustrated by Ana Sebastian, the seventh book in the seven-part Find Something Awesome! series.

What is an American? In a confusing part-guided meditation, part-collection of self-help affirmations, and part-celebration of patriotism, this title aims to find the answer… and fails.

I’ll be honest, it’s really hard to review this book because it is so deeply disjointed. The introductory page mentions that each book in the series “stands alone and also builds on the concepts introduced in earlier levels”. As the seventh book in the series, perhaps reading the previous six may have helped illuminate these concepts; “stands alone”, however, it does not. Nearly every page reads like word salad: inconsistent rhyme schemes, run-on sentences, seemingly random capital letters/punctuation, and vague hypothetical questions abound. The backmatter helps little, offering “Awesome Capabilities” such as, “You can unplug your heart from the reflection you see”; and “Awesome Questions,” a lengthy appendix of questions grouped into vaguely related categories of widely varying topics, one of which takes a sudden and abrupt stance against socialism (in fact, if one takes this into account, the entirely of the book can be read as anti-socialist propaganda, but I can’t confirm this is the intent). The book’s saving grace are its charming and diverse illustrations, but even these can’t give the book a clear purpose or theme. The “story” is lengthy, and the bizarre sentence structure and arbitrary word emphasis make it incredibly difficult to read aloud; JJ was unimpressed (though, again, she loved the art and enjoyed describing the scenes in a more literal manner than the text allowed for). I can’t speak to the rest of the series, but if you’re looking to pick up this one first, we’ll make our recommendation clear: don’t.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)