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4.8 out of 5 stars
When I Grow Up
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
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.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2011
For as long as I remember I have been a fan of Al Yankovic. I have always had the utmost respect for him and considered him to be a lyrical genius. I am now 37 years old and have two daughters of my own, 8 and 5 years old. I have had a great time introducing his music to them. It's so refreshing to be able to play up-beat, tolerable, HYSTERICAL music around my kids, without having to worry about having an uncomfortable talk with them about the lyrics. My girls ask to hear his music everyday, which is fine with me! I have taught the young grasshoppers well. Anyway enough about his music, this is about his book! Woo-hoo!

I purchased 3 copies through Amazon, one for each kid (including me). I bought one at B&N because I couldn't wait, plus I figured my kids' school library could use a copy.

I absolutely love this book. So do my kids. Perhaps we are a bit partial, but who cares? The dialogue flows good and is fun to read. I've always loved reading to my kids, and I'm good at changing up my voice to go along with the moods and characters. This was perfect for that. Some of the vocabulary is a little above their heads but hey, that's what us parents are here for right? The occupations he comes up with are so creative. I love the Snail part the best. The illustrations are amazing and there are a lot of little details to notice in the pictures. Hint: Make sure you look really close at all of the kids in the cafeteria. ;)

Mostly I like the message. So many adults push to put a career label on kids way too soon. Whether they expect their kids to follow in their own footsteps, or they are trying to live vicariously through their child with stuff they weren't able to accomplish for themselves. As "Billy" puts it in the book "cut me some slack". Let kids be kids, and figure out for themselves what will make them happy.

As usual, Al Yankovic not only meets but exceeds my expectations. He seems to have a never-ending ability to create brilliant writing, whether it be his lyrics or dialogue. He is the nicest, most decent celebrity figure out there. He is SO much more than the "Eat It" guy. I am so happy for him for the success he has had, and so rightly deserves with his career. I wish him nothing but the best.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2011
Good book, the kids enjoyed it. some of the words are a little big, but it's also a really fun read.
My kids are 16 months through 4 1/2 years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2011
Weird Al - childrens' author. Makes perfect sense. After watching the video preview I decided to buy it for my son's 6th birthday. Last night I sat down and read it to him. My wife and I read often to him and I don't recall him ever being so attentive to a book. The word play pricked his words and he asked questions about some of the more difficult vocabulary (good thing in my opinion). He laughed at some of vocational concepts. That brings me to the illustrations by Wes Hargis - breath taking. I have no idea how much time, effort, and soul was put into each illustration but there is so much going on in each page. Even after reading each verse I had to wait on while my son took in the illustrated details before moving on.

This is a great book with a great message for children that is too often not told. And the surprise ending is touching. I wasn't expecting it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2011
Weird Al has written a really good childrens book and the art bu Wes Hargis a perfect accompaniment. Although the art isnt exactly Seussian, the book still has a very Seussian feel to it. I'm not sure if Al was trying to channel his inner Ted Geissel or not but he has created something that, for me, ranks right up there with Geissel's works. It's full of whimsy and is charming to the last. It is a large book with lots of artwork that makes it perfect for sitting a young child on your lap and reading to.

I had the pleasure of meeting AL at a book signing in NJ where I purchased the book. After signing it I told him that Al ranks up there with berkle Breathed, Gary Larson and Bill Watterson as my favorite weird funny creative types. I meant that from the heart and he was touched. I think I can add Dr Seuss to that list as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Firstly, let me establish that I have been a HUGE "Weird" Al fan since the 80's, so there's very little chance I wouldn't adore his first children's book...

That aside, I enjoyed this book very much!

The rhyme was terrific and funny, just as I'd expect from the lyrical genius we know as Al Yankovic. I also like the "storyline" of this book. Little Billy is supposed to tell the class what he'd like to be when he grows up. The only problem is that he has a ton of ideas and takes up the whole class period telling them about it! Hilarious illustrations by Wes Hargis fill in the rest.

Recommended for parents who like to read aloud to their kids, and as they learn to read, the kids will enjoy reading it themselves. There are some advanced words, but I remember when my daughter was young how books with a few "grown up" words entranced her all the more.

I give this whole package a solid 5-stars!
Read Aloud
Read to self
Can't go wrong.

Ellen C Maze
Author and Weird Al Fan :-)
My favorite "Weird" Al CD: Dare to Be Stupid
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2011
When I saw this book on the bookstore shelf, I knew it had to be good. I mean, come on, who can rhyme better and with more wit than Weird Al? And it does not disappoint. As some of the other posters have said, it does have some advanced language but the pictures and sing-songy text will appeal to even the younger readers who can't understand all the words. Not only is it a lot of fun, but the end is touching. The only tip I would give is with regards to the length. This book has a lot of text and probably wouldn't appeal to a kid who has a short attention span for reading. Well done, Al. I hope this is the first of many children's book for you!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2012
I checked this book out from the library not paying attention to the author. It wasn't until I had it home and read it a couple times to my daughters that I realized who wrote the book. Based on that I had no expectations of what should or shouldn't be produced by Al. I was impressed with the story and was more than happy to read it again (and again and again) to my girls. The book makes it clear that you shouldn't decide at an early age what you want to be for the rest of your life. Be open to the things that you would like to do and don't limit yourself.
Thank you Al for a great book!
Duane
PS. I am a fan of Weird Al. :-)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2011
Every household with kids deserves this book.
Wes Hargis is definitively the best illustrator alive. His details are amazing and provide many extra minutes per page just to inspect it all.
Al's rhymes are perfect, interesting and tell kids they don't have to be one thing all their life.
What a great team Wes and Al make! Maybe we can get them to do a sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2011
I became aware of this book after listening to an interview on NPR. My nephew has been an Al Yankovic fan since he was a small boy. He is graduating this spring from college and I thought it would be a wonderful addition to his graduation gift.

I love this book. The illustrations are wonderful. The message is timeless. With all of the "teacher bashing" going on in this country the story is also a tribute to the importance of our educators in our children's development. My daughter is graduating from high school, she read the book to a group of her friends the other day while they were eating lunch at our house. I sat quietly in the other room listening to the wonderful discussion the story generated.

I recommend this book to both parents and children of all ages.
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