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B Is for Beer Hardcover – April 21, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description

A Children's Book About Beer?

Yes, believe it or not--but B Is for Beer is also a book for adults, and bear in mind that it's the work of maverick bestselling novelist Tom Robbins, internationally known for his ability to both seriously illuminate and comically entertain.

Once upon a time (right about now) there was a planet (how about this one?) whose inhabitants consumed thirty-six billion gallons of beer each year (it's a fact, you can Google it). Among those affected, each in his or her own way, by all the bubbles, burps, and foam, was a smart, wide-eyed, adventurous kindergartner named Gracie; her distracted mommy; her insensitive dad; her non-conformist uncle; and a magical, butt-kicking intruder from a world within our world.

Populated by the aforementioned characters--and as charming as it may be subversive--B Is for Beer involves readers, young and old, in a surprising, far-reaching investigation into the limits of reality, the transformative powers of children, and, of course, the ultimate meaning of a tall, cold brewski.

Questions for Tom Robbins

Q: So, Tom Robbins, you’ve gone and written a children’s book about an alcoholic beverage. First, why the ode to beer?

A: Why not? As ode fodder, its got to have at least as much potential as nightingales and Grecian urns.

Beer is so universally beloved that 36 billion gallons of it are sold each year worldwide. Moreover, it’s been popular for thousands of years, with origins dating back to ancient Egypt and Sumer. It has deep connections to the earth -- and possibly to outer space, as well (I explain this in the book). Bittersweet, like much of life itself, it’s exceptionally thirst-quenching and enormously refreshing; it’s cheerful, accessible, affordable, lovely in color, and somewhat nourishing, being one of our few neutral foods: perfectly balanced between acidic and alkaline, between yin and yang. Best of all perhaps, beer makes us tipsy. What’s not to ode?

Q: Okay, but what’s the angle with children?

A: Children see beer commercials every time they watch a sporting event on TV. In the supermarket, they pass shelves and coolers overflowing with the stuff. Neon beer signs wink at them as they’re driven to school, to church or the mall. And, if their own parents and older siblings aren’t enjoying beer, then the parents and siblings of their friends surely are.

Kids are constantly exposed to beer, it’s everywhere; yet, aside from wagging a warning finger and growling -- true enough as far as it goes -- “Beer is for grownups,” how many parents actually engage their youngsters on the subject? As a topic for detailed family discussion, it’s generally as taboo as sex.

It’s a kind of largely unpremeditated side-stepping, and part of the reason is that most parents are themselves uninformed. Even if mommy and daddy have more than a clue about beer’s ingredients and how it’s brewed, they know nothing of its history, let alone the rich psychological, philosophical, and mythic associations bubbling beneath the surface of its wide appeal.

Q: So, children need to know the “meaning” of beer?

A: Well, at the very least they need a clearer understanding of why their dad keeps a second refrigerator in the garage, and why he stays up late out there on school nights with his shirt off, listening to Aerosmith.

Q: Of course. How would you compare B Is for Beer to your previous nine books of fiction?

A: At 126 pages, it’s shorter. It’s illustrated. And it’s less complex, although considerably more complicated than Poopie the Pukey Puppy.

Q: What will you possibly do for an encore?

A: Not my problem. I’ve decided to take advantage of outsourcing. My next novel will be written by a couple of guys in Bangalore.

From Publishers Weekly

In his children's book for grown-ups/grown-up book for children, Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) takes readers on a whimsical tour of all things beer, written in the language of a bedtime story. Factoids about everything from how beer is made to the number of gallons of beer sold globally each year (36 billion) are woven into this story about six-year-old Gracie Perkel, who craves time with her beer-guzzling Uncle Moe. When Moe disappoints Gracie, she reaches for a drink and is visited by the Beer Fairy, who flies her through the Seam and offers an education about life and, of course, beer. The drive to inform the reader about malt and hops is sometimes relentless, and the language can be frustratingly dumbed-down (If you're unfamiliar with the word podiatrist, you're not alone. Fortunately for Gracie [and now for you], Uncle Moe was quick to define podiatrist as a doctor who investigates and treats disorders of the feet. A foot specialist). Still, the premise and execution of this unique book lends itself to moments of real humor. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061687278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061687273
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For Robbins fans waiting, yearning, for the next great Robbins novel, this is not it. Sorry.

It is, however, exactly what it professes to be. A children's book for grown-ups, and a grown-up book for children. (Which is what I based this review on, vs. comparing it to other Robbins books ... there's no comparison.) The writing is definitely child-like in its tone.

Gracie is practically six-years-old when she develops a curiosity about beer. As Robbins will do, he leads us on a delightful, whimsical discovery about - yes, Beer. The book is filled with Robbins's humor, philosophy, and magical writing.

I had a dumb grin on my face the whole time I was reading the book (less than two hours from start to finish) and I laughed out loud several times.

This tantalizing taste of Robbins's words has definitely left me with a craving for more Robbins. And perhaps a Red Stripe.
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Format: Hardcover
Some of us are being way too serious on the subject of Tom Robbins' creativity.

He wrote a book about beer. For kids. And totally got away with it. And it doesn't stop there because it turned out to be a great young adult book. It's an exercise in Tom Robbins' distinct style for a ten year old. I think that's pretty cool but I don't think Tom Robbins put that much thought in to where his creatively should go or how he should break down his style for a children's book.

'B is for Beer' is dynamite in a pint size. It's different. It's a little subtle for the usual Robbins escapade. By the end it's not a book about beer. Gees, guys, didn't you think you were missing something by thinking the book was just about making beer?

I enjoyed the relationships between the characters. He broke down the fourth wall to deliver an extra sassy punch. Robbins wrote about a 6-year-old's curiosity well. Hey, he wrote about beer well, too. There's a lot going on in story that isn't expressed in these reviews. Borrow it from the library and have fun.

Please, criticize this book but don't whine about the book you wish Robbins would write. You're crapping on a good little thing here. I cried a little when I finished it. Robbins expresses a mastery of female characters and it's plain as day but just as lovely in this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Tom Robbins fan who has eagerly awaited each of his books since he burst forth with "Another Roadside Attraction" in 1971, I am sorely disappointed. "B Is for Beer" is touted as "A Children's Book for Grown-ups" and "A Grown-up Book for Children." It is neither. At one point I surmised that he had started a book commissioned by the beer industry for people who want to know how beer is made. As the book got more and more boring I decided that could never have been his intent.

If you are a contrarian reader who is powerfully addicted to his writing, go ahead and buy it. I don't know how to warn you so you will save your money. It is just seriously bad writing.

Tom, you charmed us into holding on for four to six years between novels after we learned that it took you that long to release each one with its glorious metaphors, similies and crazy plots. It's been six years since "Villa Incognito" was put to the press in 2003. It is time for another. "Wild Ducks Flying Backwards" in 2005 wasn't even a novel and "B is for Beer" is a watered-down novella about which you say many people warned you "that I couldn't or shouldn't, or wouldn't bloody dare." Okay Tom, you proved that you could get it published. Now it's time to write something that again really scours the far reaches of your imagination and takes us on exotic (and erotic) journeys.

This morality tale is as flat as a Budweiser opened and left in a Seattle backyard for weeks to attract parched raccoons that don't know there are better ways to enjoy brewski.

June 6, 2012 It's been three years since I wrote this review. Haven't changed my mind. I hoped that complaining reviews from Tom's fans would encourage him to leap back into print with another of his gloriously wacky novels. Guess I'll have to wait longer. I'm tired of rereading his earlier books. I've even read all the books about his writing. This one by him certainly isn't representative of his strange genius.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a long time fan of Tom Robbins work, I was prepared to love this book and I have to say it was better than I could have imagined. The characters are sweet and real as so many of Mr. Robbins characters are, and he weaves a tale that educates even while we succumb to the world he has created.
I used to wish Kurt Vonnegut was writing me. Now I would prefer to live in Tom Robbins pages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Robbins is perhaps the most solidly strange and whimsical authors of the last few decades. Between a new Christopher Moore Fool: A Noveland a new Robbins this year couldn't be off to a better start. B is for Beer takes Robbins brand of humor in a totally different direction--children's literature, well adult children's literature. The subtitle is A Children's Book for Grown-ups or A Grown-up Book for Children. B is for Beer tells the story of one little girls' infatuation and eventual inebriation with the golden beverage of choice of her Uncle Moe that quickly dives into a fairy tale [told by The Beer Fairy] of the history, creation, and distillation of beer. I found myself chuckling nearly every other page. Here is line I would now consider classic Robbins:

The week passed as slowly as a snowmans gas.

The coup de grace sees Gracie, the little girl, visited by The Beer Fairy to tell her and most importantly show her all she has ever wanted to know about the creation of beer. Gracie also learns a few lessons about perils of drinking, but also the benefits. Although, the topic is a bit adult I could definitely see reading this on to my niece and nephew or lending it to my Father-in-law to do so. I can actually picture him sipping a beer as he would read it to them. The book is rather short (125 pages with a few illustrations), but that was obviously out of intent. This could easily be read in one sitting with a tall glass or 2 to accompany you on the journey. It will leave you salivating for a second round. My favorite Robbins was and still remains Another Roadside Attraction, although B is for Beer is a great addition to the Robbins library. I give B is for Beer 7.5 out of 10 hats.
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