Monday, April 27, 2009

Review #25: Babymouse: The Musical


Dad:  Alright, we have in front of us...
Gracie (age 8):  Babymouse!  The Musical!
Dad:  Who likes the "Babymouse" series?
Gracie:  MEEE!  Gracie does, Gracie does, Gracie does, Gracie does!
Lily (age 6):  Lily, Lily, Lily does!
Dad:  What about Isaac?
Isaac (age 10):  I said "me."  You just couldn't hear me over them.
Dad:  So it's okay with you that Babymouse is a girl.  And that the books are pink?
Isaac:  I don't care about that.
Dad:  You're still cool?  You're still macho?
Gracie:  There IS one that is not pink.  It's a Halloween "Babymouse."  "Babymouse, Monstermash."  It's ORANGE!  If you want to get a boy started on the series, read Monstermash to him first.  Get him started on the orange one and then move to pink.  Next read "Babymouse, Puppy Love" because that's hilarious.
Dad:  That's my favorite one.
Lily:  It's funny.
Gracie:  All the little guys - every single pet she tries to get - they are all hiding under the bed.
Dad:  Babymouse is not very good at things usually, right?  Taking care of pets...  playing instruments...  playing dodgeball...
Gracie:  Babymouse always makes mistakes.  Even in her own imagination she messes up.  But she IS good at eating cupcakes.  Those are her favorite-est things.
Isaac:  Her imagination always takes over the story.  But her locker isn't her imagination.  It is evil.
Gracie:  Hahaha!  It is the evilest locker ever!  It always eats her homework, or explodes her things.
Isaac:  It breathed fire once.  Why doesn't she just ask for a new locker?
Dad:  Gracie, out of all our 3000 kids' books, you said the "Babymouse" ones are your very favorite.  Why do you like these better than any other books in our house?
Gracie:  Because she's hilarious.  And she's pink.  And she's cute.  And her books are really, really good.  And there are so many in the series, I don't have to keep reading the same one over and over again.
Lily:  In the books, Babymouse is the star of the show.  Because the books are called "Babymouse."
Dad:  Do you think Babymouse knows there are books about her?
Gracie:  She probably reads them.  Actually, she's probably the one who makes them.  These are probably true tales about Babymouse.
Isaac:  Maybe it's her diary.
Dad:  So who are Jennifer and Matthew Holm then?
Isaac:  They write down the diary for Babymouse.  And draw the pictures.
Gracie:  Babymouse tells them what she wants to say.
Dad:  Alright, lets get to "Babymouse, the Musical."
Lily:  Well, there was a new boy that Babymouse fell in love with.  Henry.  A hedgehog.
Gracie:  All the girls are in love with him.  Even Felicia Furrypaws.  Felicia Furrypaws is the meaniest meany bully, and she's the most popular kid in the school.  AND she's Babymouse's worst enemy besides her locker.
Isaac:  Next, What's-his-name, William the Hedgehog...
Dad:  Henry.
Isaac: ...Henry the Hedgehog asks Babymouse if she wants to try out for the school play.  But Felicia Furrypaws gets the main part.  Then Babymouse was Felicia's... what's-it-called, under...  under...  undercover?
Dad:  Study.
Isaac:  Understudy!  Babymouse was Felicia's understudy.  They do practices and things.  Babymouse starts imagining that she is in the movie "Annie."
Gracie:  Copy, copy, copy.  This book copies Annie, Lion King, American Idol...
Dad:  It's not copying.  Did you know there's a word for "copying" when you do it for a joke?  That's called "parody."  Did you ever hear the word "parody"?
Gracie:  There was also part from Phantom of the Opera!  One of my favorite shows!  Babymouse has a whole kingdom in her locker.
Dad:  And now we know what the locker monster looks like!
Gracie:  Copy!
Dad:  Not "copy."
Gracie:  Para-something.  Para...  Parachute.
Dad:
  Parachute?
Gracie:  Periscope.
Dad:  Parody.  Okay, back to the story...
Lily:  Felecia Furrypaws was supposed to be the star of the musical.
Gracie:  And Babymouse had to be the underwear --  I mean, understudy!
Dad:  I think you said that on purpose...
Gracie:  Yes!  Hah ha ha ha...
Dad:  Ha ha ha!  I know YOU!!  I know you said "underwear" on purpose!
Gracie:   Ha hhha ha ha!  I did...
Isaac:  Is this picture supposed to be like Highschool Musical?  All the characters are jumping in the exact same pose as the poster.
Gracie:  Copy!
Dad:  Not "copy."  What's that called?
Gracie:  I can't remember!
Dad:  Para...
Gracie:  Parachute!
Dad:  You did that one before.
Gracie:  I did?
Dad:  Mm-hmm.
Gracie:  (Pause)  Pair of underwear!
(Laughter by one and all)
Dad:  Ohh, so much underwear.  Back to the story...  again...
Isaac:  At the musical Felicia Furrypaws gets a hairball stuck in her throat.
Lily:  So Babymouse becomes the star, but she breaks her leg.
Dad:  They had hinted at the hairball earlier in the story.  Do you remember what that's called?
Gracie:  Fore...  Fore...
Dad:  Four pairs of underwear!  Hah - we can both play this game.
Isaac:  Foreshadowing.
Gracie:  There was so much foreshadowing, it was five-shadowing.
Dad:  This is the 10th book in the series.  How many books do you think there will be in the end?
Isaac:  One hundred and eight.  No - one hundred and twelve.  Yep, one hundred and twelve.
Dad:  I bet the people making the books sure hope so.
Gracie:  They will make them until they die...
Dad:  What should the next one be?  What would you pick?
Gracie:  "Babymouse, the Candystore Owner."
Lily:  "Babymouse, Unicorn Love."
Isaac:  They should do it in Orange again.  Or I know!  Saint Patrick's Day, and it could be green!
Gracie:  "Babymouse Eats a Dead Fish."
Dad:  What the heck?
Gracie:  Ha ha ha ha ha ha haa!
Dad:  Ha ha ha...  you are so weird.
Gracie:  Ha ha ha..
Dad:  You are so weird!!  Ha ha ha...  What does that even mean?
Gracie:  Dead fish and Pirates!
Dad:  Ooo... pirates are better!  Maybe "Captain Babymouse."

Babymouse and Henry singing, by Gracie

Lily's idea for a new title, "Babymouse: Pony Love"

Isaac's idea for a new title, "Babymouse: Mission to Mars"


Author: Jennifer Holm
Illustrator: Matthew Holm
Published, 2009: Random House
Like it? Find it

Monday, April 20, 2009

Review #24: Pssst!


Dad:  Today we're looking at "Pssst!" by Adam Rex.
Gracie (age 8):  Adam Rex!  We love Adam Rex!  He's one of our favorite authors!  And illustrators.
Lily (age 6):  Yes!  This book was my pick today!  Pssst!  Pssst!
Dad:  Why do you like this book so much?
Lily:  I like saying "Psst! Psst! Psst!"
Dad:  And you say it very well.
Isaac (age 10):  It's like you are trying to get someone's attention quietly.
Gracie:  Psssst!
Lily:  Pssst!
Dad:  You are squirting me...
Isaac:  Just so you know, almost every single page has "Pssst" on it.
Gracie:  The story is about a little girl and all the animals of the zoo.
Dad:  Does the girl have a name?
Gracie:  Adam Rex.
Dad:  Adam Rex?
Gracie:  Ha hah ha hee hee hee!
Isaac:  It's a girl!
Gracie:  Madame Rex!  It's Madame Rex!
Isaac:  When the girl --
Gracie: (interrupting)  Madame Rex.
Isaac: (continuing)  When the girl got to the zoo, she heard a "Pssst!"  She went over and met an animal.
Gracie:  The gorilla.
Lily:  All the animals wanted something, and she had to get everything they asked for.
Isaac:  The animals kept doing it over and over and over again -- going "Pssst!" and asking her for stuff.
Gracie:  After answering the gorilla's request, she couldn't let down the other animals.
Isaac:  They wanted tires, a comfy chair, flashlights...
Lily:  Even a wheelbarrow.
Dad:  We won't tell everyone why they wanted them.  We won't give away the surprise.  But it was for a secret reason, wasn't it.
Gracie:  Yeah, they kept tricking the girl.
Lily:  Pssst!
Gracie:  Every animal keeps going "Psst!"  "Psst!"  "Psst!"
Isaac:  It's strange to hear an animal talking to you.
Dad:  The story keeps repeating the same pattern over and over.  First there's a page of her...
Gracie:  Walking.
Dad:  Then she hears a...
Lily:  "Pssst!"
Dad:  Then...
Isaac:  An animal asks for some stuff.
Gracie:  Walk!  Talk!  Walk!  Talk!
Isaac:  You forgot the "Pssst!"
Gracie:  Walk.  Psst.  Talk.  Walk.  Psst.  Talk.  Walkpstalk!  Walkpstalk!
Dad:  Tell us about the pictures...
Gracie:  When anyone in the background who is not a main character is talking, they are just drawn in outlines.  And when they are talking, it's just little white speech bubbles with nothing in them.  And if anyone doesn't know what a speech bubble is, you should go ask your parents.  I don't know how to explain them.
Dad:  There are lots of little sight gags spread all around the book.
Isaac:  It's funny in the very beginning because there's a sign that points: this way for tickets, this way for gorilla cage, this way for Page 4, this way for peacock -- and the peacock is standing right in front of the sign!  If the peacock moved somewhere else, the sign would have to change every single second!
Gracie:  Why is there a sign on this other page that says, "Please don't shake the narwhal"?
Dad:  Would the narwhal like it very much if you shook him up?  He's in a snowglobe.
Isaac:  I want one of those narwhal hats.
Dad:  "Spork."  I want a spork shirt.  Wouldn't that be cool?
Isaac:  What is it for?
Dad:  I don't know.  That kid in the picture just has a shirt that says "spork" on it.  It's so random.
Isaac:  Aww, cool.  I want a spork shirt!
Dad:  Wouldn't that be fun?
Isaac:  Yeah.  I'm going to make one!
Dad:  Then you would be the coolest kid ever.
Isaac:  I want to get a narwhal hat and a spork shirt.
Dad:  Why do you think there was a hippo inside the cave with the bats?
Gracie:  Hee heee heee ha ha haaa ah haaa!
Dad:  Look at the girl -- she's freaked out!
Lily:  She's freaked out because hippopotamuses are one of the dangerousest animals in the world.
Gracie:  We learned that on the Nature Channel.
Lily:  Because they have sharp teeth.
Gracie:  And they're mean.
Lily:  And they fight each other with their teeth.
Isaac:  I think I know why there is a hippopotamus in the cave.
Dad:  Why?
Isaac:  There was a hippopotamus in his hippopotamus cage.  And he saw some yummy food in the camel cage.
Dad:  What are you talking about??
Isaac:  And when he went in the camel cage, it was getting too bright for him.  So he had to find someplace dark.  So he headed over to the bat cave...
Dad:  My, that is a very interesting theory.
Isaac:  Now I'm going to tell you how the baboon and the tortoise became friends.
Dad:  Make it quick.
Isaac:  The tortoise was in his tortoise cage.  And he loved ice cream...
Dad: (laughing)  What in the world -- You're gearing up for an epic tale...  let's save this for another time.
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!  No!  Tell the rest!
Dad:  Anything else before we wrap up?
Lily:  At the end, when the girl brings the things to the animals, it looks like real stuff.
Dad:  Yeah, the illustrations use real photos.
Lily:  She took it out of magazines.
Dad:  The girl did?
Lily:  Well, she cut it out.
Dad:  She did?
Lily:  I mean, He!  Adam Rex.
Gracie:  He is Adam Rex.  She is Madame Rex.
Isaac:  This is a really good book.  My favorite page is the one where the kid has a "spork" shirt.
Gracie:  Haa ha ha haa!  You really want that spork shirt don't you?
Isaac:  What?  It's cool!


the hippo hangs out in the bat cave, by Isaac


the duck wants a vase for his flowers, by Lily


And a series of pictures by Gracie:
"Pssst!" Huh?

...the bird wants a skateboard. "Psst!"

...the possum wants a rocket. "Psst!"

...the mouse wants some glue.

What the...? Yikes!


And are you ready for this?
Isaac cobbled himself together a spork shirt:



Author/Illustrator: Adam Rex
Published, 2007: Harcourt
Like it? Find it

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!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review #22: Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls


Dad:  Happy Easter week!  We just read Adam Raccoon...
Gracie (age 8): ...at Forever Falls.  I love Adam Raccoon.  He's so cute!  There's a whole series of Adam Raccoon books.
Dad:  I think we're only missing one.  There's one about playing soccer that we don't have.
Gracie:  Awww!  I love soccer!  I want to see that book.
Dad:  These are written and illustrated by Glen Keane.  And truly, Glen Keane is my favorite artist on the entire planet.
Isaac (age 10):  What if he's in outer space right now?
Gracie:  Dad!  How could you say that, right in front of yourself!?
Dad:  Ha...  I'm not my own favorite artist!  Now, Glen Keane is not typically known for children's books.  He is a well-known, well-loved animator.
Gracie:  A movie person?
Dad:  Yeah - animation.  Like when you guys made flipbooks the other day.  But he makes big "flipbooks" that are actually movies.  Glen Keane is the artist who animated Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" and Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" and the character Aladdin in "Aladdin"...
Isaac:  Those are big flipbooks!  Those are two-hour shows!
Dad: ...and he did the eagle in "Rescuers Down Under" and Silver in "Treasure Planet" and Tarzan in "Tarzan."  Remember that sketchy picture of the Beast I have up next to my drawing table?  That's a copy of a picture Glen Keane drew.  See how in "Forever Falls" he uses big, thick, smudgy pencils in his illustrations?  That's the same thing he uses for his animation.
Isaac:  I want to get one.  I want his big, smudgy pencil!
Dad:  His illustrations are loose and sketchy because he's used to drawing fast for animation.  Hundreds and thousands of pictures.
Lily (age 6):  You mean he's speed drawing?
Dad:  So, I told you about Mr. Keane.  Now, you tell me about Adam Raccoon.
Lily:  He's a terror!
(laughter by all)
Dad:  I don't think he's a "terror"!  He's more... mischievous.
Isaac:  Adam Raccoon is really mischievous, and he likes sparkly things.
Gracie:  I like sparkly things too.
Lily:  And he likes swimming.
Gracie:  I love swimming!
Isaac:  That's one of my favorite things to do.
Lily:  Me too.
Isaac:  And he likes cookies - but that's a different book.  There is also a lion character that is the king.
Lily:  King Aren.
Isaac:  Adam finds a pond that he's not allowed to go in.
Lily:  No swimming!  Because the swimming hole was deathly!
Dad:  Dangerous?
Lily:  Deadly.  He did not obey.
Isaac:  A bird says, "Go in that pond," and Adam goes in the pond.
Lily:  It was beautiful, and he thought he could stay in there forever.  But the river swept and sweeped him away!
Isaac:  He's going to go off the waterfall.  While he's falling off the waterfall, King Aren jumps into the river and throws Adam to shore...
Lily:  Oh my goodness -- he has a big throw.
Isaac: ...and King Aren falls off the waterfall instead.
Lily:  He went over the waterfall into the deep.  Adam felt bad and sad.  Then King Aren shot out of the bushes!
Isaac:  He's still alive.
Lily:  And Adam felt happy, excited, glad!
Gracie:  This book is fun.
Lily:  I like it because there's duckies in it.
Dad:  When I teach art lessons, this is one of the books I will always, always show when I talk about Color.  It is the best book for teaching how artists can use color to influence emotions.  What colors do you see when Adam is safe and calm and fine?
Gracie:  Everything is blue.
Isaac:  Blue and green.
Dad:  What happens to the sky as soon as Adam starts to get into trouble?
Gracie:  Orange!
Isaac:  And yel-l-l-l-l-low.
Dad:  As he gets closer to the falls, those "danger colors" start taking over the blues.  See how much orange and red is in the water now...
Gracie:  (gasp!)
Dad:  And at the climax when they're finally going over the falls: Even though the background is totally sky and water, is there any blue used at all?
Isaac:  No.
Lily:  All pink and red!
Dad:  Then, what immediately happens to the colors when Adam is safe and King Aren disappears?  Where did all the reds and yellows go?
Gracie:  They got soaked up by sadness.
Isaac:  It's all greens and purples and blues.
Gracie:  Even the flowers are sad.
Dad:  And when King Aren shows back up?
Lily:  Happiness.  Yellow and orange.
Dad:  You don't even notice any of this while you read, but it helps guide your emotions.  An artist still could have used blues and purples at the reunion scene, but it wouldn't have seemed as happy.
Gracie:  Forever Falls aren't scary anymore!
Isaac:  This story is kind of like Adam and Eve.
Dad:  Do you think that's why... his... name... is.....
Gracie:  Adam!
Isaac:  Ohhhhhhhhh....
Dad:  It never dawned on you before, did it?  You didn't even make the connection while you were saying it!  But now the lightbulb goes on.
Gracie:  In the Bible, Adam was the very first man.  In this book he... must be the very first raccoon.
Dad:  Ha ha...  I don't think he's the very first raccoon.  But he represents us.
Gracie:  Adam represents Adam.  And us!
Dad:  He's kind of like a kid, isn't he.
Isaac:  And the king is supposed to represent God?  The lion?
Lily:  Because God takes care of us, and He looks after us all the time because He's everywhere.  You know... we could be sitting on God right now...
Gracie:  The bird was tempting Adam to go into the water.  So that one must be the serpent, only he's a bird.
Lily:  That IS the serpent!
Gracie:  What do those ducks symbolize?
Dad:  Not everything represents something else.  Hey, do you remember what we call the lessons Jesus taught when He told stories?
Isaac:  Parables.
Dad:  So, why did I pick this for our Easter story?
Isaac:  Because it's about Salvation.
Dad:  Right!  The text doesn't ever say "salvation," but we sure can learn about it through the storytelling.
Isaac:  I get this story now!  I know how this relates.
Gracie:  It's just like how Jesus gave His life for us!  King Aren threw Adam onto shore, but then he fell.  He traded his life for Adam.  Just like Jesus died for us, in our place.
Isaac:  We all are sinners, like when Adam was falling off the cliff.  But Jesus saved us, He died for our sins, and He came back to life.
Dad:  Books with crosses and tombs might do a good job of relating the details of the Easter story.  But I can't think of a single picture book that does a better job of conveying the meaning of the Easter story.  Rescue from disobedience and death.
Gracie:  It's an important book.

Adam loves swimming, by Gracie

Adam Raccoon and King Aren, by Isaac

Adam and a lady friend, by Lily


Author/Illustrator: Glen Keane
Published, 1987: Chariot Books
Like it? Find it

**And click here for one of the best Disney interview clips you'll ever hear...