Polacco's story is a fantasy about the townspeople of Triple Creek and their complete infatuation with TV. Everyone in town except for Eli's Aunt Chip owns a TV, loves the TV, and never turns the TV off. The library is torn down and, instead of being read, the books are put to practical use as seats, plates, pothole fillers, etc. In protest, Aunt Chip "takes to her bed" and warns the town that there will be consequences for their actions.
Fifty years pass before her warning becomes a reality. One of the most disturbing effects of the constant TV watching is that everyone forgets how to read! This discovery is enough to rouse Aunt Chip from her bed and start her teaching Eli how to read. Soon the other children want to learn and they begin collecting books that had been put to use all over town. Eli's decision to pluck Moby Dick from the town dam literally brings this illiterate town crashing to the realization of the power of books.
I recommend this picture book to people of all ages who love to read. As a librarian, I especially appreciate Polacco's message. If you like this, you might also want to read The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg, a picture book with a similar theme.