Tag Archives: mac barnett

When we’ve come to expect the unexpected

wolf duck mouseAh, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.  I see your names, and I start wondering what you will drum up next.  Will it be absurd?  A little dark or a lot dark?  Funny?

No matter what I think beforehand, there’s always a twist or a tangent that I don’t quite expect.  You don’t really sit and imagine duck and a mouse planning dinner parties in a wolf’s stomach, for example.  That might be what you get.

Is there something deeper going on?  Some statement on our connectedness and the ways we can work together?  You sure could read it that way.  But maybe it’s just a goofy story that calls for some exclamations like “oh woe!” and a dance with a colander.   Some books (and parties and afternoons) are just like that.

The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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What to do when you have opera-singing, cheerleading, sheep, and cowboy neighbors…

noisy nightNo wonder the old guy upstairs isn’t getting any sleep!  There are just too many loud people and animals in this place.  Who’s the landlord?

It’s not like I’d been thinking I needed a reminder of the neighbors who liked to play bongo drums on the roof outside my window several years ago. (At three in the morning.  On weeknights.  And they called me “dude” when I asked them to stop.  “Sorry, dude.”  Really.) Sometimes you just can’t avoid the memories that flood in while you’re reading picture books, right?  (I’m kidding there.)

But this book is not about following rules, appropriate behavior, or making good choices – it’s about the rhyme, my friends.  There are enough quirky things to make adults smile (as well as a few things they might need to explain) and much that will keep the storytime crowd engaged and thinking ahead to the next rhyme.  And it’s Mac Barnett.  So get out your trumpet, warm up your record player, and get ready to dance.  Or read.  One of those.

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett and Brian Biggs

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Yarn lovers and radicals

extra-yarnI’m guessing that if Annabelle were a real person, she’d be out wearing some spectacularly fabulous hats today.  She’s a community organizer, maybe without meaning to be.  She’s a connecter, knitting for one very familiar storybook bear, as well as mailboxes and birdhouses.  She understands the people in her community.  (Would everyone wear a sweater?  No.  But hats work nicely, too.)  She cares about more than the money some selfish archduke wants to lob at her.  In the end, her kindness is her power and her joy.

Rock on, Annabelle.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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The Terrible Two Get Worse – not terrible, not worse


Welcome back to Yawnee Valley. As in The Terrible Two, there are hills and cows. Miles Murphy and Niles Sparks are on their way to the Prankster Hall of Fame if there is such a thing. Their latest work, a creation so perfect that it cannot be destroyed – the flowers involved are a protected species – has been memorialized in the all-school picture. What can possibly get worse about this scenario?

Just wait a beat or two. Principal Barkin’s power-hungry retired father, also Principal Barkin, uses the Terrible Two’s work to get back in the game of indoctrination, er, education, where he will put a stop to Miles and Niles and their dastardly plans.

But this is not just your normal boys-against-authority book for middle graders. First, there are the illustrations, which are funny and detailed and often bear a closer look. Then, you’ve got the random bits of information Barnett and John sprinkle throughout – cool words like “eschaton”, concepts like propaganda vs. samizdat – finally, there will be water-soluble thread, which despite all earlier clues, I missed!

I love these books. There is nothing terribly deep or life-changing about them, but there is much joy and regular chuckling. Who doesn’t need a good laugh? Who wouldn’t like to see some former principal of theirs get pranked? I had been looking forward to this one for months, and I’m telling you, my copy is headed straight for elementary school this afternoon, exactly where it should be.

The Terrible Two Get Worse by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

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Leo: a ghost story

LEO++front+cover+—Leo+page“This is Leo. Most people cannot see him. But you can.”

And then Leo appears. He’s a ghost in search of a friend. The new people who’ve moved into his home don’t get it. They seem bothered by the mint tea and honey toast floating through the air. They bring in people to get rid of Leo. Leo doesn’t want to stay where he’s unwanted, however, and he heads off to the city, a roaming ghost looking for a new home.

At first no one acknowledges him, but then he meets Jane, who plays Knights of the Round Table and thinks he’s imaginary. Still, she’s a friend, and the first night, he’s so happy he can’t sleep. And then he also just happens to foil a thief!

Mac Barnett is a favorite of mine – for Extra Yarn, Telephone, and The Terrible Two. Now I’ll be looking for more from Christian Robinson, too. (Josephine and Last Stop on Market Street are just wonderful.) And if they happen to make more books together – even better!

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