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Al's First Book
on February 1, 2011
It's weird to see the author of this book listed as simply Al Yankovic. But, "Weird" or not, this is still the man who brought song parodies to the mainstream that we all know and love.
I've been a "Weird Al" fan since I was a kid and have planned on giving my child (born in July 2008) plenty of exposure to the world of Al as he grows up. So, I had to pick up the book the day it was published and bring it home and read it to my child.
At first glance, I love the illustrations (done by Wes Hargis) and the great photo of Al on the tricycle on the back. It's a nice, big "storytellers"-sized book, so you can sit with your child (or by yourself) and read it with great, full-page illustrations and a nice, big font size. It also doesn't skimp on the words. I've seen some of my kid's books where there's only 1 or 2 sentences per page, which is fine in its own way, but I'm a fan of the book lasting more than 5 seconds when I'm reading it to my son.
As far as the story, it's the story of Billy's day at school when show-and-tell's theme is "When I grow up, what am I gonna be?" Billy is VERY enthusiastic about sharing all of the thoughts that fill his head when posed with this question and goes the length of the book describing the world of possibilities of all of the awesome things he can dream of doing when he gets older. These include a chef (albeit one who uses some interesting ingredients... Twinkies au Gratin?!?!), a Giraffe Milker, and many, many more, with a great closing thought that definitely fits in the mind of a child like Billy.
The wordplay that Yankovic employs is quite creative, actually. Each line rhymes with the next, and that's a fine attribute for the minds of younger children to keep their ears working and even cause some laughter in the process because of the humor of all of the zany things that Billy proposes. As much as I love this about the book, it might be its only downfall. I don't know that the average child can read this book by him/herself and a) understand it all and b) get through some of the vocabulary. For a parent reading to a child, which is how I plan on using Al's book, I think it is absolutely a must-have. But, I don't know that my son will be able to read it and stay interested in it by himself. At least not yet. Although, again, I feel the illustrations definitely accompany, and even enhance, the story to this point.
In the end, I recommend picking this book up. If you're a big "Weird Al" fan, you probably have it already or are planning on getting it already. If you're looking for something for your child(ren) that you can read with them, I suggest you pick this up. Al is exhaustingly family-friendly in both his book and his music, which you might want to look into as well. He's a very nice, very funny, and very talented person in an entertainment industry that I find lacking creativity. This book just strengthens my opinion on that.
PS - I just bought and read the book a few hours before writing this review. I will be reading it to my child for the first time tonight. I will post any major reaction he has to it before the week is over.