Monday, January 31, 2011

The Purple Kangaroo

          The Purple Kangaroo
The Purple Kangaroo
Written by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Peter Brown
Simon & Schuster's Children Publishing
ISBN-10: 141695771
ISBN-13: 9781416957713

"Hey, kid. Guess what? I've got a supersecret, hghly unusual, incredible and amazing magical power. I can read minds. It's true. In fact, I can read YOUR mind."

So begins The Purple Kangaroo written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Peter Brown. Of course, with an opening like that, it grabs childrens' interest! "No way," they say. "Impossible." But the narrator, a very zany monkey, goes on to show just how he is able to accomplish such a feat in a wild story that includes a "banana-juggling, roller-skating, hula-hooping, rainbow-bubble-gum-nose-blowing, purple kangaroo searching for his wild-eyed-chinchilla friend Senor Ernesto de Pantolones!" "No way," you say. "Impossible," you think. But it's true!

I loved this book. This book is fun and silly and makes kids laugh right from the tips of their toes. I read a lot of beautiful, thoughtful, enlightening stories, but this is not one of them. This book is just plain crazy-town fun! At first I thought maybe it was just my sense of humour. I wondered what kids would think of it. Would they call it "lame"? So, I put it to the test. I read it to students from Kindergarten to Grade 3, and they all enjoyed it. But I have to say, when it comes to from the tip-of-your-toes laughs, the Grade 2 and 3 students had it covered. It is hard to read this book slowly and gently. It has its own pace and is a bit of a tongue-twister in places. I think the older students were better able to keep up with the pace and understand the humour in the very silly story.

You might recognize the name of the author, Michael Ian Black. Black has written another children's story called Chicken Cheeks, but you might also know him as an actor and comedian. He brings his comic sense and timing to this book. I feel this book is unique. It's not a predictable story. In fact, it's one of the most unpredictable stories I have read, and that is its charm. You can check out the video clip below of Black reading bits from his book.

The illustrations by Peter Brown are silly, like the story. But they are eye catching, and, in fact, they are what caught my attention and made me pick up the book. Brown drew the story in cloud bubbles, in a style that is very simple, but engaging.

Hey, guess what? I've got a supersecret, highly unusual, incredible and amazing magical power. I can make you laugh. It's true. In fact, I can make you laugh right down to the tips of your toes. Just sit down and listen to me read The Purple Kangaroo.

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