________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 18 . . . .May 13, 2005


Media Madness: An Insider's Guide to Media.

Dominic Ali. Illustrated by Michael Cho.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
64 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-175-5 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-174-7 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Mass media-Juvenile literature.
Mass media-Influence-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Grace Sheppard.

**** /4



Would you watch a TV channel with nothing but commercials? Guess what? You already do! Music videos are actually big flashy commercials provided by record companies to music video channels. They hope the videos will encourage you to buy CDs.

When videos first became popular in the 1980s, many performers felt they robbed fans of using their imaginations when listening to music. But other artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson creatively used videos as an art form. Their records flew off the shelves. Now videos are an important way to boost record sales.


From TV studios to video games and the Internet, Dominic Ali and Michael Cho, along with their mascot, Max McLoon, encourage readers to ask the "Big Six" questions when faced with messages from the media. Ali's version of the "Big Six" follows:

1. Who created this message and why are they sending it?

2. Who is the target audience and how is the message tailored to them?

3. How does this message get your attention?

4. What values and lifestyles are shown?

5. How might other people read this message differently?

6. What's missing from this message that might be important to know?

     Media Madness is similar in theme to Shari Graydon's recent book, Made You Look. Both titles encourage readers to become critically literate - to question the many messages they encounter every day in print, on the radio, and on television. This book targets a slightly younger audience than Made You Look. Its picture book size, colourful pages, large, labeled illustrations and "sidekick," Max, are all aimed to get the younger crowd asking who, how, and what to the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to, and the video games they play.

     The information in the book is organized by media type, with a brief introduction and conclusion. For each type of media (television, music, magazines, newspapers, comic books, video games, and the web), the reader is shown who does the work to produce the media and the pages that follow give information about that particular type of media and the messages it sends. Each page spread has a main "blurb" of information with several sidebars, fact boxes, and "Try This" boxes with tips for deconstructing messages.

     Ali's text is age-appropriate and clear. The combination of the text and Michael Cho's illustrations is key to this book's success. The text is flowing, fun, and full of facts while the illustrations are bright and humourous. The illustrations are cartoon-like and full of funny details. Cho's drawings include all ages, colours, and both sexes of people (and loons). Max, the book's loony mascot, falls for all kinds of advertising scams throughout the book, and this, along with the colourful pages bursting with text and drawings, ensures high kid appeal. The book will also appeal to teachers and teacher-librarians for its usability as a media-studies tool. The many suggested activities, such as cutting all of the ads out of the arts section of a newspaper to see how much newspaper is left without them, will be easy to use in a classroom or library setting. This book is a must-have for public and school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Grace Sheppard created this message. She is a Children's Librarian with the Ottawa Public Library in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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