Skip to content

Telephone by Mac Barnett

Heard it through the grapevine!

Have you heard about Telephone, the new picture book written by award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jen Corace?

☆Starred Review – Publishers Weekly


If you read this blog often you’ll certainly know we’re big Mac Barnett fans and now we’re spreading the word that we’ve added Jen Corace to our list of faves.

Telephone, the schoolyard game so beloved by generations of kids, has been playfully reimagined and reaches new heights of humor when birds on a telephone wire pass along a message. You know the game, a simple sentence, in this case “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner,” is changed by each consecutive messenger until it’s unrecognizable.

The hilarity comes not only from the misunderstandings, but from Corace’s artistic interpretation of the tale. My favorite spreads are of an acrophobic turkey, “Tell Peter: I’m too high up on this wire,” which in turn gets misinterpreted by a fire fearing bird with “Tell Peter: Something smells like fire!”

Kids are going to love how each bird on the telephone wire hears the message based on his or her own particular interests. The variety of birds and their hobbies are beautifully illustrated by Corace. Don’t miss all the details she’s so carefully created such as the shadows of the birds in the first spread and the way neighbors seem to also be sharing news.

The picture book’s theme of communication and listening versus hearing lends itself well to a discussion with children about how our own experiences and feelings can play a huge role in what we hear, thought we heard or want to hear. Of course Barnett gets it right by saving the wise old owl until just before the very end. After hearing the sheer nonsense Peter’s mom’s original message has become, the owl’s able to cool, calm and collectedly straighten things out.

So in a word, or a few, tell your children to read this book or better yet, read it to them. Pass it on!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel


Share this:

This Post Has 4 Comments

Comments are closed.

Back To Top