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When I Grow Up Hardcover – February 1, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From School Library Journal

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.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 930L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061926914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061926914
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 11.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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By NBS on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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