Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
The Dullards are a very boring family and that’s just the way that Mr. and Mrs. Dullard want it to be. But lately their three children, Blanda, Borely and Little Dud, have been giving then bad shocks. The children want to read books, play outside, and have fun. The parents are so horrified that they move to a duller neighborhood. Once there though, they need to make sure their home is boring enough by getting rid of the colorful wallpaper and then watching the paint dry. Even that won’t stop their children though, so they move back to their original home, just in time for the circus to come to town. Luckily for their children, the Dullards sleep very soundly.
Pennypacker offers an inventive riff on The Stupids, one that embraces the dull side of life. She perfectly captures the humor of a family wanting to just be bored all of the time, taking it to such a level that the humor is laugh-out-loud funny. From their reaction to chunky applesauce to asking to have the vanilla flavor removed from their ice cream, the book is a joy to share aloud. Beautifully, the humor is delivered in the ideal deadpan manner, matter-of-fact and with a straight face (of course). The Dullards wouldn’t have it any other way.
Salmieri captures the gray dullness of the Dullard’s lives very nicely, using images like the children watching an unplugged TV and seated on the bare floor. He contrasts that with the children who may be dressed in the same dull colors but are independent thinkers who add color in many other ways. The illustrations add so much to the book, creating those moments where the children are doing their own thing much to their parents dismay.
Funny and vibrant despite its dull subject, this picture book is sure to get even the most bored children giggling. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
The dreaded boredom has set in in this very funny picture book. A little girl is so bored she is flat on her back moaning when she notices a potato. When she tosses the potato away, not knowing what to do with it, the potato says that it too is bored. The potato goes on to tell the little girl that kids are boring. She insists that no, kids are fun and the potato challenges her to prove it. She shows the potato all the physical things she can do, then demonstrates using her imagination, but through it all the potato stays unimpressed. There is a great twist at the end of the book that you will have to read for yourself. A funny read that will have even the most bored child enjoying themselves.
Done entirely in dialogue, this is a fast-moving picture book. It begs to be read aloud with a grungy, dusty potato voice. The ever-bored potato is a great foil to the little girl who despite herself loses herself in her imagination and actions. It’s a lesson that kids are anything but boring, even when they themselves are bored.
The illustrations have a great rough feel to them. Done digitally, there is a feel of the organic roughness of a block print. I particularly enjoy seeing a little girl not in pink or done up cutely. This little girl is a real one, one that throws herself into things and that includes being willing to argue with a potato.
This is one book that is anything but boring. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile
Frankie and Sal have done it all: played every sport, painted pictures, baked cookies, played board games, and read every comic book. So they decide to do something they have never done before! Nothing! They try again and again to do nothing at all, but it doesn’t work. When they pretend to be statues, Sal has to swat away the pigeons. When they think of themselves as trees, Sal imagines that Frankie’s dog pees on him. When they are tall buildings, Sal is scaled by King Kong. In the end, they decide that they have to start doing something after all because it is impossible to do nothing.
The common problem of boredom is paired here with a sense of humor. The two boys imagine themselves as different things, but Sal always has his glasses even as a tree or building. The King Kong sequence is especially funny as sharp-eyed readers will spot the hand of Kong even as Sal reassures Frankie that he is doing great. The relationship between the two boys is also very well done. The boys are different as can be but their friendship is never in jeopardy in the book. It is a great and subtly delivered message behind the action.
A rousing read aloud for any bored child, this book will refresh long summer days filled with free time. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from library copy.
Also reviewed by Lori Calabrese Writes.