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The Silly Book Hardcover – August 3, 2004
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"Stoo Hample is the da Vinci of Daft, the Socrates of Screwy, and the Gershwin of Goofy. His book is mordant, scintillating, pungent, and deeply profound, but it's just a bit too silly for me." — Norton Juster, author of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH — Norton Juster
"Stoo Hample's THE SILLY BOOK is more than forty years old and just as silly as ever. Me, too. Which is why I still love it. So do my grandchildren." — Mary Rodgers, author of FREAKY FRIDAY — Mary Rodgers
"THE SILLY BOOK is back again. It's the epitome of Stoo Hample himself. His crazy sense of humor and laughter — his unique frolic with the sound and fun in words — is like having Stoo himself in the room making us laugh." — Charlotte Zolotow, publisher emerita and children's book author — Charlotte Zolotow
"THE SILLY BOOK is — ha ha — so silly — ha ha — that I have trouble — ha ha — thinking about it while writing this — ha ha ha ha — blurb. I mean, have you noticed that the first two — ha ha — letters in Hample are Ha? I mean — ha ha — isn't that — ? It's so — ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Forgive me." — Jules Feiffer — Jules Feiffer
About the Author
Stoo Hample is the author and illustrator of many books for children, including MY MOM'S THE BEST MOM, YOU STINK! I LOVE YOU, and the international bestseller CHILDREN'S LETTERS TO GOD. THE SILLY BOOK, Stoo Hample's first book, was originally edited by the legendary children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom. The book became a colossal hit, and its popularity led to THE SILLY RECORD, a Boodleheimer doll, and other silly merchandise. This is a book for those who, like the author, believe in silliness. "Life," he maintains, "is essentially silly, or why would there be war, disease, and dandruff?"
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Top Customer Reviews
I got the Silly Book when I was 4 and it quickly became my favorite book. In fact, it is family lore that I drove my parents mad reciting "I want to see my Mommy a minute" on long cross-country car trips. I was able to find another used copy of the first edition several years ago and introduced the book to my kids, both of whom immediately fell in love with it. For the previous reviewer who claims the book promotes "speaking baby talk," I can only say that that person must have no experience with kids and how they play with language or their own child is frightfully dull, LOL. My kids delight in the word games and absolute craziness of some of the stories.
I was very excited to get an email last year from Candlewick, who had seen my posts about the book on an internet site. They told me about their new edition, but I didn't order it until just last week. It came today, and my kids (now 7 and 9 and both speaking rather well, thank you, despite their early exposure to the linguistic anarchy of Stoo Hample) have not put it down all afternoon. The new edition it should be noted is about twice as large as the original, has some new and/or revised illustrations (Chicken-Face is wearing a mask--NOOOOOO!), as well as a couple of new poems.
You have to be seriously humorless not to enjoy this great trip through the absurd.
I want to see my mommy a minute,
My mimmy a monnit. My mommy a minnit.
I want to see my mommy a minnit.
To sing her a little song,
To sing her a little.
To ling her a sittle,
To sit her a lingle long.
(I think my mommy will like it
Because it's a very short long.)
Nothing extraordinarily clever here--you're not gonna get something akin to the "Mozart effect" (in which parents play Mozart for their infants, hoping to stimulate their brains). No, when Hample titled this "The Silly Book." he meant it.
Here are some examples. Note how some of these riddles and word plays are now very formulaic for adults. The example immediately following is the kind of riddle that helped build one adult comedian's (G.C.) reputation.
If people get chicken pox, What do chickens get? SILLY ANSWER People pox.
ANOTHER SILLY QUESTION
If Mommy eats a Popsicle, What does Daddy eat? ANOTHER SILLY
ANSWER A Momsicle!
A few other examples follow:
"I am silly,/You are silly, All of us are silly,/ Willy./ All of us but cousin/ Millie./ She's upside down." (The poem is next to a picture of Millie, upside down, holding a flower labeled, "Tillie.")
"Cook three pieces of/spaghetti in a pan of/water for two years.
Add one teaspoonful/ of chocolate syrup/ and mix well.
Spread on bread/ and freeze.
Feed to teddy bear."
More than most books, this one depends on the interaction between the reader and the audience. When read with the right expression and tone to a receptive, language/sound fascinated boy or girl, this may be great fun and build future warm memories. Read cold off the page, many of the riddles, poems, and other prose come off as familiar word play. (By the way, the accompanying illustrations are generally simple, although sometimes drawn with clever dialogue or captions). Perhaps in 1961 this book was somewhat ahead of its time; the utter nonsense of these books may have been a refreshing change for some. Soupy Sales, a somewhat comparable visual and linguistic entertainer, was still a few years away from TV. Soupy, however, has a few more layers of meaning--there's a sly wink at the adults not seen here-this book centers around little kids only. "The Silly Book" will not ruin your audience's language; instead, it has the potential to increase their enjoyment of language, and, most importantly, to build lasting memories of reading and silly time. Given that context, I can recommend this book, especially for those adults who can add the enthusiasm that comes from finding an old favorite ready for a new generation.
Knowing time was running out, a few years ago I started searching for a copy from online used bookstores, but to no avail. As soon as I heard it was re-printed, I bought a copy and read it to my kids. Alas, they didn't get it. You see, they are now 14, 13, and 11, and in their mind far too old for silliness. The 11-year-old caught a few of the jokes, but it won't be a favorite.
The lesson: Buy a copy early in your children's lives. There's nothing else out there like The Silly Book.