logan j. fowler reviews “Weird Al” Yankovic’s newest project as a teacher and a lifelong fan …
“Weird Al.” Singer. Performer. Music Video Director. Cult-Classic Film Star.
Quite a resume. And now, Mr. Yankovic has added “Kids’ Book Author” to his line of work.
When you think of “Weird Al,” your brain conjures up images in the guy in a fat suit parodying Michael Jackson’s “Bad” with “Fat” (Ding dong, ding dong yo). The man is unparalleled in his career — his parodies are the work of genius (well, I think so anyway). And while his original songs don’t not match up to his spoofs, some are diamonds in the rough. (Just listen to the item listing in “Hardware Store” off Poodle Hat and try not to be amazed).
I grew up listening to the man’s parodies, still do, and I consider him a hero (which I have an odd list of to begin with). So when I found out he was writing a kid’s book, I went to the little known website amazon.com and picked it up immediately.
Now, before I get into my review, let me just say the following; I highly considered playing hooky from work (not the whole day) this previous Monday. His royal weirdness was in a local town (Princeton, N.J.) signing copies of his book at a Barnes & Noble.
In the words of Jiminy Cricket, “Let your conscience be your guide.” I did not rebel against work.
(Cue sad face.)
Anyway, I got to crack open said book, When I Grow Up, in front of my students (4- and 5-year-old kids) today, which was a Friday — great way to the end the week. And I gotta say, while “Weird Al” impressed me with his music, he had impressed me even more with his writing.
His Yankovic’s writing style is like that of a Dr. Seuss prodigy. He doesn’t make up fake words like the infamous Doctor, but his over-the-top word usage strikes a similar chord.
The poetry is very sing songy and sticks to the routine flow, and being the teacher that I am, I allowed for pauses to see if kids could guess the upcoming rhymes based on the context of the words on the given page.
The illustrations are not what I expected for a book penned by Weird Al — I guess I expected something zanier — but don’t get me wrong, the pictures by illustrator Wes Hargis are vibrant, colorful and imaginative. Hargis added some pictures that had no context with the story being told, but it plays into the imagination of a young child who is describing several possible future occupations.
The book is a quick read, lighthearted and very humorous. The ending also spoke to me personally, as I could relate to the young boy’s final vision. The kids enjoyed it, I did as well, and it’s a great addition to my ever growing library of kids’ books.
“Weird Al” for life, yo.