So I’m halfway through my self-imposed 30 Days, 30 Picture Books Challenge and I’m the opposite of bored. It’s been so much fun that so far that there’s a little bit of me wondering how long I could keep this whole a-picture-book-a-day thing going. It’s turned out to be the opposite of burdensome, instead, a fantastic perk up. My little celebration has done exactly what I’d hoped it would: I’m officially over my blogging blahs.
I guess the lesson here is, when you’re feeling decidedly “meh”, do something, which is one of the messages kids will likely get from this picture book by Michael Ian Black with illustrations by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. It’s not Black’s first picture book (A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo), but it is Ohi’s debut, and it’s exciting to see such a great beginning from her. I love adding another artist / writer to my Watch What They Come Up With Next list.
If you caught my Day 5 review of It’s a Tiger!, you’ll know that I’m a believer in picture books with running jokes. (By the by, now that I’ve finished my start of year library tours at school and I’ve read It’s a Tiger! oh… 25 times, I can confirm that kids find repetitive humour HILARIOUS. I wish I’d thought to record my reading with the kindergarten classes. The laughter was totally out of control. Those little people have big laughs. I could hardly see the book because my eyes started watering from laughing so hard because they were laughing so hard). So I’m certainly pleased as punch to report that I’m Bored is another great choice for fans of running gags.
It begins with a little girl who is stuck in a state feared by children everywhere (and even more so by their parents): she’s bored. Then she finds a potato, which has to be one of the most boring possible things to find, right? Yes, and no. This particular potato is even more bored than the kid. So the girl sets out to show Mr. Grumpy Potato Man why kids are anything but boring. They can cartwheel and do ninja kicks and play and imagine stuff and fly and jump and rock out and dress up like potatos, for example. Of course, this leads the little girl to realize that being a kid, and being herself, is the coolest, most non-boring thing to be, and she ditches the potato, storming off to make her own fun. There’s a silly twist at the end (which I won’t spoil), that is sure to please kids.
I don’t think the premise here offers much that is new, although the potato character in and of himself is certainly a creative and funny addition to a familiar situation, but I like the energy and simplicity of the text and the fact that it is entirely kid centered. Generally speaking, picture books in which the main character gets increasingly frustrated to the point of freak out, tend to keep hold of kids’ attention. Plus, I can think of a dozen art and language lessons that you could link to this text. Potato printmaking anyone? Writing “I’m Bored!!!” manifestos?
And now it is the point in this review when I gush about Debbie Ridpath Ohi for a little while. To say that her illustrations in this book have personality is like saying Tina Fey has personality. Her scribbly style and judicious use of eye-popping colour mixed with black and grey and pale blue details brings to life the little girl’s free-spirited, just-try-and-keep-up personality. The kid’s facial expressions and actions remind me of my some of favourite comic characters from childhood, particularly Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes.
If you want to feel like you’re totally lazy, maybe you should go over to Debbie’s website so your jaw can drop open when you see all the things she manages to get done. Wowsers, she is one creative, talented, non-sleeping kind of lady. She seems cool. Like her artwork. And this book.
I’m going to wrap this up with the adorable music video inspired by the book:
You can see lots more to make you smile at the I’m Bored Super Secret Bonus Page.
Going to go conquer the world now. Kids will want to do the same after reading I’m Bored.
I’m Bored is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.