My Worst Book Ever

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From the pages of author Allan Alhberg and illustrator Bruce Ingman comes a hilarious picture book about all the events that can distract a picture book writer as he (or she) is penning his precious picture book. It is called, My Worst Book Ever!, and it’s one of the funniest writing tragedies an aspiring young picture book writer will ever encounter.

In the book, a focused and devoted picture book writer just wants some peace and quiet so he can write. He retires to his writing shed with his steaming cup of coffee, his blank book, and his bustling brain. He has the perfect beginning for his story, which he titles CROCODILE SNAP!

It’s a great beginning, but it doesn’t last! There’s a fox loose in the garden, and before he knows it, his shed door flies open, the family cat flies in, and the coffee goes flying across the page. He quickly cleans the mess and jumps back into writing, but there are other distractions. His family is waiting for him to take them on vacation, which means there will be no writing until he returns. But when he returns, snails have eaten his writing paper.

These are not his only distractions. When he’s finished with the book, his illustrator has ideas of his own and decides that the main character should be a hippo and not a crocodile. As if that isn’t bad enough, when his book finally goes to the printer, the printer’s little girl drops the book and rearranges the pages, and… Can anything get this book back on the right track?

My Worst Book Ever! is one of the cleverest books ever, because it takes the process of picture book writing from concept to production and breaks it down in picture book form. Through super-brief, adorably menacing alliteration and rhyme (i.e., Billy Brown boating; Brave little chap. Crocodile floating. Crocodile…Snap!), and expressive, kid-friendly illustration, Mr.Ahlberg teaches aspiring picture book writers of all ages the perils and pit-stops a picture book encounters as it struggles its way toward completion.

Picture book writers (and readers) learn how animals, family member and even coffee can distract a writer. They learn that although collaboration is necessary in picture book writing (an author needs and illustrator, and they both need a publisher), everyone doesn’t see everything the same way. And they also learn that even when the book finally makes it to the printer, any number of things (in this case, a helpful baby who ends of scattering the pages out of order) can change the book from a success to a disaster.

Use this book as a prime example of how to begin writing; how to get words down onto paper; and how to plan a book from idea to completion (even if completion means stapling the pages together). It can be used during discussions about future occupations (author, illustrator, publisher), or it can be used to inject a little humor into the supplemental reading hour.

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