>Lane Smith’s It’s a Book got into hot water on Boston’s North Shore when a literacy foundation tried to donate copies to 340 first graders via their schools. While I don’t buy into the harrumphing that has plagued this book’s final page I do have two cautions. One, first-graders? I think It’s a Book is better for third. Two, foundations (and Scientologists and Baha’is and Bible-thumpers) should know that gifts do not trump selection policies in public institutions. Just because you want to give something away, it doesn’t mean that somebody has to accept it. If this were true, the nation’s public libraries would be swimming with copies of National Geographic, and the nation’s public schools would be swimming in Coke®.
I’m also bothered by the concept that one book suits all. Unless the publisher unloaded copies on the foundation, somebody had to pay for these books. Even at Amazon’s suspiciously deep discount of 57 percent, that would come to more than 1800 dollars, money that could have been spread around to give the kids some choice.