Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011
: Eight-year-old Billy gives a flamboyant show-and-tell presentation, reciting for the class and his hapless teacher Mrs. Krupp, all the professions he has in mind for his future. From master snail trainer to dinosaur-dusting museum curator, the possibilities he imagines are seemingly endless. Billy’s great-grandfather is his inspiration, having had many different jobs and who, at age 103, still doesn’t know what he wants to be. Billy’s carefree enthusiasm is contagious, and the bubbling rhythm of When I Grow Up
makes it a lively read-aloud.--Seira Wilson
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Al Yankovic
Q: Did you know what you wanted to be when you were Billy’s age?
Yankovic: When I was eight? I think chronologically that was sometime after I wanted to design miniature golf courses but before I wanted to be a writer for MAD magazine. I’ll guess that was about the time when I wanted to be a fireworks-maker. Thankfully I didn’t blow any fingers off.
Q: What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Yankovic: I was an accordion repo man. During my summer breaks from college, I had a job giving accordion lessons to kids at a local music school. The kids usually didn’t own their own accordions, so we had to lend the instruments out . . . for as long as they were still taking lessons. If they ever stopped taking lessons and didn’t return the instrument, it was a job for . . . Accordion Repo Man!
Actually, it wasn’t all that difficult—usually they were more than happy to hand the accordions back.
Q: Kids talk about being “grown up” a lot. Heck, we all do. What does it mean to be “grown up”?
Yankovic: I think it somehow involves the ability to grow hair in disgusting places.
Being “grown up” obviously means different things to different people. To most folks, I assume the definition has something to do with the added responsibilities of adulthood and the ability to make more important decisions about one’s own life. Growing up is an important transition, and hopefully a very positive one—although, strangely, whenever somebody told me to “Grow up!” as a kid, it was rarely meant as loving, constructive advice.
Of course, if you define “growing up” as having to jettison every last shred of one’s childlike wonder of the world . . . well, then I hope I never grow up.
Q: At one point Billy ponders becoming an “artist who sculpts out of chocolate mousse.” That sounds scrumptious . . . and hard! If you could sculpt something out of mousse, what would you create?
Yankovic: Well, of course, I’d make the mousse into a moose! What else? I mean, I hate to be obvious, but I just can’t resist homonyms…
Q: Do you have any advice for kids who are already thinking about what to be when they “grow up”?
Yankovic: Hey, it’s a terrific thing to think about. By all means, explore your options. Find your passions in life. And always remember: It’s never too late to change your mind.
Grade 1–3—Eight-year-old Billy has an active imagination and a host of interests. So, when it's time for show-and-tell, he can barely contain himself as he describes, nonstop, what he'd like to be when he grows up. His career choices include chef, snail trainer, lathe operator, gorilla masseuse, an artist whose preferred medium is chocolate mousse, sumo wrestler, pickle inspector...and on and on. Mrs. Krupp's attempts to call "time up" are unsuccessful. He's just getting started. Billy is still pondering vocational choices at lunchtime when he comes up with one more possibility—a great teacher like Mrs. Krupp. The story has a nice premise, but it doesn't quite live up to its potential. In addition, the rhyming text can be distracting. Well-done, realistic and colorful watercolor and ink illustrations accompany the story, but overall this book is a supplemental purchase.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.