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That Is Not a Good Idea! Hardcover – April 23, 2013
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How Ideas Become Good Ideas: A Note from MoThe first step to figuring out a story is your characters. And with each book, I go through hundreds of sketches that aren’t used. Here are a few that I did in the early stages of That Is Not a Good Idea! for Hungry Fox, Plump Goose, and the Baby Geese.
If anyone is going to pull off a picture book built on the conventions of old-time silent movies—exaggerated facial expressions, telling body language, and, of course, blacked-out dialogue pages cut into the story—it would be Willems. The setup is classic dastardly villain and innocent naïf, as a three-piece-suited, top-hatted, grinning fox catches the eye of a sweet, old babushka-wearing duck. Dinner! He asks if she’d like to go for a stroll in the deep, dark forest to his kitchen, where he’s making a pot of soup that’s missing only one last ingredient. At each step of the way, an increasingly frantic litter of chicks warns That is really, really, really, really not a good idea! By the time the story reaches its peak, you can practically hear the Wurlitzer throbbing, and kids will be squirming with tense glee, primed for a classic Willems gotcha that turns the whole thing on its head for the poor, unsuspecting fox. A quick, crowd-pleasing lark that should be a hit at group storytime. High-Demand Backstory: Willems, Willems Willems! And as much as everyone loves Elephant and Piggie, fans will be pleased to have a new offering in a picture-book format. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ian Chipman
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Top Customer Reviews
SPOILER ALERT: It's a little scary, as most of the book consists of a fox trying to lure a duck home for "dinner". The duck keeps agreeing to go with him (for a walk... into the woods... to his kitchen....), and every other page there is a young chick (or a few) looking scared saying "that is NOT a good idea!" The twist at the end is that when they are standing over the soup pot and fox says there's a missing ingredient in the soup (ie the duck), she agrees that yes there is and pushes the fox into the soup. The last page of the book is the duck and her children eating the soup. Personally, I like to stay away from scary/creepy and/or violent books when it comes to my son, and I certainly don't want him reading books where the characters eat each other. It's honestly a little disturbing and I'm surprised other reviewers haven't mentioned this, not really my idea of a great children's book. Again it is clever and maybe enjoyable if you're comfortable with the plot twist but I just wanted to put this out there - some parents may be fine with this book which I can totally understand but I wish I'd seen a review like this before purchasing it for myself.
One last note though - my son got to it before I got home to see it myself so he had already read it, unfortunately, but it actually went over his head... He thought the duck pushing the fox into the soup was hilarious, and did not make the connection that the fox ended up being cooked in the soup and the duck and her chicks were essentially eating him. He thought the fox went home. PHEW. But like I said, this book will be leaving my house (or at the very least will be hidden away for a few years) before he has the chance to figure it out :)
The curve-ball this book throws at you catches you by surprise. In fact, after the last page, my group said, "Let's read it again, because now we GET IT!"
The silent movie reference took a little explaining, but it enhanced the suspense because it helped them understand 'why the baby geese couldn't just help out'. On the second read-through, they cackled aloud as every page gave up it's mystery to them.
Mo, you are OK with my class. They thoroughly approve.
As always, Willems knows how to pace a suspenseful tale, and his bold illustrations, especially those which highlight his character's expressive faces, add to the unfolding drama. Young readers might be savvy enough to see the twist that lies ahead--but this mature reader certainty didn't!