Monday, April 13, 2009

Review #23: Beware the Tickle Monster!

For an author or illustrator, there are few things in life more fun than getting that box containing copies of your next new book.  One of the things that IS more fun however, is getting that box when the house is full of kids.  I thought I'd turn the recorder on and capture those first chaotic moments and the candid discussion that followed...

Dad:  Here we go!  What do you think is in this package?
Gracie (age 8):  "Tickle Monster!"
Evangeline (age 1):  Aiyeee!
Dad:  Even Evie is excited.
Isaac (age 10):  If there's a messed up copy, can I have it?
Dad:  Here they are... Ta-da!
Gracie:  Woohoo!
Lily (age 6):  I want one!
Gracie: (immediately reading)  "Don't worry about the kooky Cyclops..."
Lily:  I get three copies!
Dad:  Hey, Isaac, here's a scratched one for you...
Isaac:  It is?  Yes!
Dad:  It's just got a scratch on the back.
Isaac:  Nuts.  I was hoping it would be really messed up, like the cover would be on upside down.
Gracie: (still reading)  "Don't worry about the boogie-woogie Boogeymen..."
Isaac:  Bookie Woogie?!
Dad:  Boogie-woogie.  Not "bookie."
Elijah (age 3):  Mommy, can you read me this?
Gracie: (still reading aloud)  "...four-eyed, three-horned, little, furry Tickle Monster!"
Lily: (reading aloud simultaneously from a different page)  "Don't worry about the kooky Cyclops..."
Mom: (also reading aloud simultaneously)  "...dilly-dallying Dragons!"
Elijah:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Hey, for the review, tell everyone what makes this board book special...
Gracie:  Because it's got holes in it for your fingers to finish the pictures.
Isaac:  They made the holes too big.
Dad:  They are rather big.  It must be for us grownups with fat fingers, rather than for kids.  Wow - even my thumb could fit in there with extra room.
Gracie:  Aww, Dad.  For the boogie-woogie Boogeymen, you stick your finger through their nostrils!  That's gross!
Isaac:  Ha ha ha ha!
Dad:  Kids will love that, won't they?
Isaac:  I like it!
Gracie:  It's snozz!
Isaac:  It's nose hairs!
Gracie:  My favorite is the Troll page.  Look - your finger makes his tongue!
Isaac:  Hey, I know...  since the holes are so wide, maybe they are for your big toe to go in!
(Isaac tries it... Hysterical laughter follows)
Dad:  Wow - that sure looks disgusting!  Ha ha ha...  Yikes!  Your toe is the perfect size though.  The Zenz children have discovered an alternate way to use this book.
Gracie:  Little kids, if your fingers are too small for the holes, stick your big toe in there!
Dad:  Yuck - don't stick your tongue in there.
Isaac:  Does it work?
Gracie:  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Dad:  Wonderful...  Now Gracie is sticking her tongue into the hole to make the Troll's tongue.  Set that copy aside...  I'm sending some of these to other people, and we don't want them to get that one!
Gracie:  Yea!  I can keep this one!
Dad:  Yes, I do believe that's our copy now.  No more tongues in these.
Lily:  I want to stick my tongue in one!
Elijah:  Look!  I am sticking my tongue in here!
Dad:  Wonderful.  That one is ours now too.
Gracie:  Ha ha hah ha ha!
Dad:  We've only had this book in our house for 5 minutes and you've already found other wonderful applications.  Hey - now Evie is eating it...
Kids:  Hee hee ha haaah ha ha ha!
Dad:  Well, it is a board book.  That's why it's not made out of paper... so babies can chew on them.
Gracie:  Sweet!
Dad:  So, there's the initial onslaught of reactions as everyone checks out the book.  Who wants to review it now?
Kids:  Meeeeeee!
Lily:  Isaac, Grace, everybody get a copy of Tickle Monster!
Elijah:  This is Tickle Monster.
Isaac:  It's written by Craig Yoe.
Dad:  And illustrated by some guy.
Gracie:  Illustrated by Daddy Zenz!
Dad:  It says Daddy Zenz?
Gracie:  Ooo... giant bubble wrap in the box!  Isaac, share it!
Pop!  Pop!  Pop!
Dad:  Are you done with the bubble wrap?
Gracie:  Nope.
Pop!  Pop!  Pop!
Dad:  Should we review bubble wrap instead?  How bouncy is it?
Lily:  It's fun!
Gracie:  Bubble wrap is awesome!
Pop!  Pop!  Pop!
Isaac:  Let's read "Tickle Monster" a second time!
Gracie:  We have a special guest today.
Dad:  Who is the special guest?
Gracie:  Daddy.
Dad:  Ho-ho, the special guest is me?  But I'm here every week.
Gracie:  You are our special guest because you are the illustrator.
Dad:  You guys have wanted to do an interview for the blog.  Do you want to practice on me, little roving reporters?
Isaac:  How long did it take you to make it?
Dad:  By now, I don't remember off the top of my head.  There's so much time between when the art is done and the book comes out.  But it was a pretty fast project.  Under a month I think.
Gracie:  Was it hard to think of the monsters?
Dad:  It was - so - much - fun!  It was probably the most fun book that I've ever worked on.
Isaac:  I would think so.
Gracie:  Was it hard to think of pictures to go with someone else's words?
Dad:  Not too hard since all the characters are crazy creatures.  Like a Boogeyman.  Who knows what a Boogeyman looks like???  It could look like anything!  So it was lots of fun.  The part that did make the job tricky was that I couldn't stick the holes just anywhere.  They've got to be in the same spot for every page.  So even though I could make a Boogeyman look however I wanted, I had to draw it around the hole placements.
Isaac:  Did you think you might put the holes on the eyes of the Boogeyman?
Dad:  That's a good question.  I actually didn't get to pick what part of the body the holes would be for.
Gracie:  You didn't?
Dad:  The author wrote the words, obviously.  But there are also people called Art Directors and Publishers, and they told me where they wanted the holes.
Gracie:  Like for the tails.
Dad:  Right.  For the Dragons, they said that the finger coming through the hole will be the tail.  So I couldn't just put the hole on whatever part of the Dragon I wanted.
Gracie:  What was the finger hole on the Cyclops supposed to be for?
Dad:  What do you think?
Gracie:  A horn!
Dad:  Right!  Good!  You figured it out.  I didn't know if it would be obvious that the Cyclops is supposed to have a single horn on his head.  So for that page, in addition to what the publisher asked me for, I also drew some alternatives.  I drew some where the finger would be the nose or the tongue.  But they wanted to stick with a horn.  And I'm very glad you knew it was a horn!  That makes me feel better.  I've been worrying about that.
Isaac:  To tell you the truth, I had no idea what that was.
Dad:  Well, what would you have guessed?
Isaac:  I have no idea.
Gracie:  What about on the Boogie-woogieman?  Are your fingers supposed to be nose hairs or boogers or what?
Isaac:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  I think that can be whatever you want.  For that one, it's not so much that our fingers complete the picture.  The holes in the book are just his nostrils.
Gracie:  Maybe the Boogieman says, "I have a giant, fat worm in my nose!"
Isaac:  Ew.
Dad:  Well, he seems pretty happy about it!
Gracie:  Hee hee heee hee!
Isaac:  Did they give you any instructions about how the creatures were supposed to look?  Or could you design that all by yourself?
Dad:  I could make them look however I wanted.  But the publisher had to approve it.  And again, back to the Cyclops page... that was one where they didn't use my original design.  Do you know what the word "Cyclops" means?
Gracie:  One eye.
Dad:  Right.  I figured that for my Cyclops, the only thing necessary was to make sure he had just one eye.  So the first Cyclops I drew was a little, alien, goo ball with one big eye.  But the publisher wrote back and said they would rather it look like a traditional Cyclops with one horn coming out of its head, and your finger makes the horn.
Isaac:  But not too many people would know what that was.
Dad:  Well... Gracie knew!
Gracie:  My favorite art in this book is the Tickle Monster.
Dad:  He was really fun because a Tickle Monster can look like anything in the whole wide world.  As opposed to a Dragon... a Dragon has to look like a Dragon.
Gracie:  But a Tickle Monster could be a little globby thing with ten arms if you want.
Dad:  It could be anything!  The only thing I knew about the tickle monster from the text is that it had to have four eyes, three horns, and fur.  Beyond that, I could do anything I wanted!
Isaac:  I once made a tickle monster.  I called it a Ticklafuss.  And it was yellow and had really long wiggly arms and wiggly fingers.
Dad:  No two people have the same imagination.  If you guys had illustrated "Beware the Tickle Monster," this book would have looked totally different, wouldn't it?
Gracie:  Yeah.  My trolls would be little people with pointy ears and little green puffball outfits and little brown sandals and pointy green sailor hats made out of leaves.
Dad:  Wow.
Gracie:  Daddy, if I had a choice between really meeting your trolls or the kind of trolls Isaac draws... then definitely, definitely your trolls!
Dad:   Ha ha ha...
Isaac:  What is wrong with my trolls?  They just have giant clubs and axes and things.
Dad:  My trolls don't look like they could kill you.
Isaac:  Your Dragons look nothing like mine either.  Yours have big horns that go floppy like bunny ears.
Lily:  My favorite character is the baby Boogeyman.  Because he's cuuuuuuuute.
Gracie:  People usually think that things like Cyclops, Dragons, Monsters, Trolls would be scary.  But in this book they are all cute!  Because it's a baby book.
Lily:  The Tickle Monsters are cute.  They won't hurt you.  Just tickle you.  But you could laugh so much that you can't breathe.
Gracie:  They are so furry!  And they have big squiggly tickle arms!  And little tentacles on the bottom!
Dad:  They have lots of things they can tickle you with!
Lily:  The baby Cyclops is cute, kind of.
Dad:  Kind of?
Lily:  He's not that cute because he has that thing coming out of his head.  What is that?  Maybe they have three ears.
Dad:  You were out of the room when we were talking about that.  It's a horn actually.  Can you tell it's a horn?
Lily:  Oh.  Ummmmm...
Dad:  Ha ha ha...  well, Gracie knew...
Isaac:  The Cyclopses look like goat thingamajiggers.
Gracie:  They look like Mr. Tumnus but with Cyclops heads.
Dad:  If you wanted one of these creatures for a pet, who would you pick?
Gracie:  The dilly-dally Dragon.  Because he's cute.  Or maybe the kooky Cyclops.  Because he's cute.  Or maybe the baby Boogeyman.  Because he's cute.
Dad:  But baby Boogeymen grow up to be big Boogeymen.
Gracie:  Well, he's still pretty cute when he grows up.
Isaac:  Then you could stick your big toe in his nose.  But don't pick a Troll.  Trolls are always trouble.
Gracie:  Especially the ones Isaac makes.
Isaac:  I would pick the Dragon.
Dad:  They grow up to be pretty big too.  Look at the size of the mother compared to the trees.
Isaac:  Whoa-ho-ho!  Oh!  That's a big dragon!  I didn't notice the trees there!  Okay, maybe not.
Lily:  I would pick the baby Dragon anyway.
Dad:  What would you do after he got big?
Lily:  I would keep him outside.
Isaac:  That Dragon wouldn't even fit in our yard.
Dad:  What if he sat on our car?
Lily:  Oh my goodness.
Dad:  It would be flat as a pancake.  Then if we wanted to go somewhere, we would have to sit on top of it, and he could throw it like a frisbee.
Isaac:  That would make me sick.  We could just ride on the Dragon.  He'd only have to take one step and we would be wherever we wanted.
Dad:  Any last thoughts?
Gracie:  Read the book!
Isaac:  And stick your big toe in it!
Lily:  Or your tongue for the Trolls.  Like this!
Dad:  No more tongues.  Hey - no more tongues...

tickling the baby Cyclops, by Gracie

baby Dragon, by Lily

Tickle Monster escaping his box, by Isaac

Tickle Monster, by Elijah

Boogeyman, by Elijah

Author: Craig Yoe
Illustrator: Aaron Zenz
Published, 2009: Running Press
Like it? Find it

How would you like a signed copy of "Beware the Tickle Monster!"  A pristine copy, mind you... kept far away from the tongues and toes of the Z-Kids.  Just leave a comment below between now and April 24, and we'll randomly select one of our visitors to win!  Spread the word!


Sherry said...

We love your blog and since my boys may be part monster I'm sure they'd love the book!

Trevor said...

I'd love to enter!

Heidi Noel said...

I love to read your blog. I have tried doing this with my kids, but it is pretty difficult. Nice work. Hey, if I tongue books please. ;)
P.S. I love the addition of Elijah. His drawings were great!

Anonymous said...

our local monsters love the Z-kids. pick us! pick us!

Laci said...

Haha, give me some bubble wrap, i like it too! - Laszlo

Andy said...

Please count me in. I love this blog and the way you interact with your kids. Makes me want to be better as a dad myself.

ABCD Diaries said...

My kiddos would love this! Thanks!!

Lynn said...

Do we get the copy that had Isaac's big toe in it? We'll take it! Sounds like a great book. I'd love to share it with my son. Love your site!

liz said...

Oh, I'd love a copy! I'll even take a tongue copy, maybe. These drawings are great. Elijah's already a better artist than I am... :)

Rebecca Gomez said...

I think the Giggle Monster (is there one in that book?) crept out of my computer and attacked while I read this post! Too funny. I was cracking up when I read about the kids sting their tongues through the holes in the book.

Thanks for the chuckles!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book! Love the blog!

Pat Zietlow Miller

Ben Clanton said...

Awesome! Sounds like a lot of fun!

Megan said...

I love your blog, and you've definitely made me want to see your book!

mindy said...

nice blog and thanks for the wonderful giveaway

A Reader said...

Looks cute!

Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

What an extensive review...Loved every minute. I know my 2 little ones would love this book!! Please enter me!

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

cstironkat said...

Holt would get a kick out of this. He loves anything with monsters as long as they are friendly.

Michele said...

Thank you for the giveaway. This sounds like a really fun book.

Swati said...

Oh, this was so much fun to read! It made me smile a child smile this grown up day. But then, I was already playing truant from my cleaning job for the day :) Even if I don't get a copy - thank you for this!

And I am sure now that the book will be lovely. And I am going to have to bookmark your blog for regular reading too... another one, sigh, where do all the hours go? I need to sleep too!

Erin A said...

What a cute book! Thanks for the giveaway!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Congrats on Beware the Tickle Monster! I can't wait to review it on readertotz. :~)

As always, your review just cracks me up. Excellent!

And you know I had to try my tongue and toe, too.

Unknown said...

Cute review. I love the pictures. My son would love this book.

Miranda Ward said...

This is too cute

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh how exciting! I would love to win.


what a cute review

Brooke said...

love the blog and reviews.. wee man asks if there are new reviews all the time.. he would love this book and so would lil kiwi.. although she would try to eat it also

Llehn said...

Ooooo ... pick me, pick me!!!


wendy wallach said...

what a fun post!

madamerkf at aol dot com

judyv12306 said...

What a fun book.


mudrunnersmom said...

my nephew would giggle like crazy if I won this for him

K said...

This made me laugh so much! I'm a full time stepmom and elementary school librarian. It reminded me of so many discussions with my students and boys!

lilbabypug said...

we have a tickle monster right here in our house. he comes out whenever someone is pouty or grumpy. thanks for the giveaway

Della said...

We have big ones (11 and 12) and a little one... (1) and a half (19 weeks pregnant). Having a board book that would entertain the big ones and the little ones would be awesome!

If we don't win, we'll probably go out and buy one anyway, though. :)

writergal85 said...

what an adorable, fanatastic book discussion.

April said...

What a great blog and what an adorable book! I would love to be entered! Thanks!

YZgirl4 said...

Great book...thanks for the giveaway. A tickle monster lives in our house!

Lindsey said...

How fun, I would love this book for my daughter! The monsters are cute, lol. Thanks for the giveaway!

ladyufshalott at

silverhartgirl said...

this looks super cute
silverhartgirl at

balqees said...

Ooohh how fun!! Will the book be signed/doodled-on by the Z-Kids too? I'm greedy!
Hehe in any case please consider me for the draw. This sounds like a great book to share with my 17 month old!

*Crosses fingers for luck*
*Crosses arms for extra luck*
*Crosses toes for super luck*
*Crosses legs for lucky luck*
*Crosses eyes for ducky lcuk*
*Crosses tongue for shlucshy luksh*


Your fan from Kuwait,

Balqis (*^-^*)

P.S. Congrats Dad on the release of the New Book and on the new addition of Elijah to the Bookie Woogie Z-Kids troup!

KR said...

Congrats!! I'd love to have this~~

mj.coward AT

Marie said...

Very cute post :-) My kids would love this book!

hollybookscoops said...

What a fun time for you all! I remember the tickle monster very well. He used to visit my house when I was little and now he visits my house when my kids are being silly. It would be fun to have a book about all the monsters that we talk about.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Tamara B. said...

I am always tickle my grandson and he is so ticklish it makes me laugh just as hard. I would love to win this bok to read to him, thank-you.

Tracysweetangl said...

This is great! The kids would love this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

Brimful Curiosities said...

I'm quite ticklish so I'm slighty wary of this title. My kids might get some tickle ideas, and I certainly wouldn't want to be tickled by any toes or tongues. :) Sounds like great fun.

Cari said...

Would love one - how neat!

Staci A said...

This looks like a fun book!

Z-Kids said...

Thanks everyone for all the comments and all the interest! The winner of the random drawing is (drumroll...) "April"! Congrats and we hope you enjoy "Beware the Tickle Monster!"

balqees said...

Congratulations April, you lucky duck!

Balqis (*^-^*)