Posted in June 2012

Old Black Fly, 1992

Old Black Fly, 1992

Jim Aylesworth’s story and Stephem Gammels illustrations make Old Black Fly one of the better themed abecedarian books I’ve seen. It’s a straightforward story: Old Black Fly has been having a very busy day being bad; he does all sorts of badness; then, justice comes, he gets swatted, and “he won’t be bad no more.” Written in a song-like, rhythmic kind of way, complete with rhyme and the oft repeated “Shoo fly, shoo fly, shoo”, it begs to be read aloud in that slow way of an old man sitting on a hot porch, listlessly waving his hand at a fly buzzing round his head. The tone makes the SWAT! at the end particularly effective. But then, it’s right back to the slow tone that eclipses the messy undoing of an evil, dirty fly. Continue reading

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King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, 1985

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, 1985

If academics had a hard time with the naked Mickey yelling Cock-a-doodle-doo in In the Night Kitchen, what would they say to a kid’s book where all the adults get into the bathtub together? What exactly would they conclude from a big, hairy, naked king jovially commanding all of his subjects to conduct their business with him–fishing, eating lunch, having masquerade balls, planning battles– in the bubbly waters of his bath? Continue reading

Rain Makes Applesauce, 1964

Rain Makes Applesauce, 1964

To add to the list of personal favorites: Julian Scheer and Marvin Blick’s Rain Makes Applesauce. Simply put: without any direction, tangible plot, or identifiable characters, Rain Makes Applesauce explodes in a carnivalesque orgy of nonsense, hordes of patched dolls, giant clouds of collaged landscapes, and fragmented colorful lines splaying all about. Continue reading