Friday, September 16, 2011

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2011 - Installment #5

Welcome to the Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, Installment #5. Need some explanation? Click on the link in the first sentence to catch up. Then come on back here.

New to the BnBWWoLS in this, the second year of its existence, is Variations on the Overall Weirdo Theme. September 2nd's wonderful weirdness (Installment #4) was focused on Stinky in Name, Title, or Deed

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This week will focus on The Anthropomorphic. You know: characters that are not people, yet behave just like us. They walk on two legs. They talk. They even wear clothes - though sometimes they just wear shirts and skip the pants. (Why is that, anyway?)

But enough babbling from me. Let's get to the books, shall we?

Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
Ages 4-8

On the day she is born, the tiny mouse's parents think she's absolutely perfect, which is why they give her an absolutely perfect name: Chrysanthemum. Once Chrysanthemum grows "old enough to appreciate it," she loves her name: how it looks and how it sounds. It's absolutely perfect - just like her. But when her very first day of school has come and gone, Chrysanthemum comes home with a very different perception. Will she ever again think her name is absolutely perfect?

 Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes
Ages 4 and up

Lilly is, in a word, exuberant. She loves school and everything in it - including her teacher Mr. Slinger. "Wow," said Lilly. That was just about all she could say. "Wow." She loves Mr. Slinger so much, she pretends to be him at home, making her baby brother Julius be the student. She loves him so much, she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. 

One day, Lilly comes to school "especially happy," eager to show off her new purple plastic purse, her movie star sunglasses, and her jingly quarters. But she chooses the wrong times to try to share, and Mr. Slinger has to take action. So Lilly goes to the Lightbulb Lab and she thinks. First, she gets sad. Then, Lilly gets angry. Then, Lilly gets furious. And then, she makes something that shows exactly how she feels about Mr. Slinger. And that's when things begin to get very...interesting.

Chick 'n' Pug, by Jennifer Sattler
Ages 3 and up

Chick is an adventure-seeker, fueled by what he reads in his Adventures of Wonder Pug comic book. Trouble is, the chicken coop is sorely lacking excitement. So, Chick goes looking for it elsewhere. Pretty soon, he comes across "a real, live Wonder Pug." Though this Pug seems a bit low in the energy department, Chick believes him to be every inch a Wonder Pug.

Chick tries and tries to get some adventures started, but all Pug really wants to do is sleep. Then, when an intruder is foisted upon the snoozing Pug's territory, Chick sees the chance to create some heroic excitement of his own.

Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Ages 4 and up

Tacky is an odd bird. He is not quiet and polite, like the other penguins. He doesn't march in an orderly fashion, like the other penguins. And he is not a graceful diver, like the other penguins. Tacky causes the other penguins much chagrin.

Until one day, when some penguin hunters come to the iceberg. They want to sell the birds "and get rich, rich, RICH!" They think finding and catching the penguins will be easy.

But they haven't met Tacky.

The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner
Ages 4 and up

Most folks know the story of The Three Little Pigs. It usually starts with "Once upon a time." It always has three pigs. And a wolf. And lots of huffing and puffing. But in this story, things don't exactly go according to plan. It all starts when the wolf blows one little piggy clear out of the story. And suddenly, the pigs have the upper hand...

The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale (A Benefit for the Starbright Foundation), by various celebrities and artists
Ages 4-8

Hans Christian Andersen's classic cautionary tale about telling it like it is, is retold. But this time, lots of behind-the-scenes stuff is revealed. Narrated by an enterprising moth, the reader learns previously untold tidbits from such unlikely characters as The Spinning Wheel, The Imperial Mirror, and The Emperor's Underwear, as well as from some of the more familiar characters: The Imperial Dresser, The Honest Boy, and of course The Emperor himself.

In fact, there are brief personal accounts from more than 20 different characters - not all of which are people, leaving the reader with a much fuller understanding of the famous goings-on that led to an emperor parading about in nothing more than a crown and a birthday suit.

Illustrated by a host of well-known children's illustrators and artists, the book also comes with an audio CD of the story, written and performed by various celebrities.

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And that, as they say, is that. Come back next week for the 6th Installment of the Second Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. It's shaping up to be quite a magical list...


  1. Good post!

    I've wondered about the whole "shirt but no pants" thing as well. I think it might be that an animal loses their "animal-ness" in an inverse correlation to displayed "human-ness" attire. A long tail or overt animal posturing can offset the "humanizing" effect of pants, as shown on the cover of "Tack the Penguin".

    That's my hypothesis on the situation. ;-)

  2. LJ - Quite a cerebral approach to the "no pants" conundrum. You make a very good point. I just love Tacky the Penguin: he's very "penguin-y" with just the right smidge of human about him. I never thought about why. And to think, all it may take to induce this feeling in a reader is to simply draw him sans pants!

  3. Ahaha about the pants. I've also noticed that.

    Absolutely LOVE David Wiesner's THE THREE PIGS. Such imagination!

    Fun post, Kim.

  4. Thanks for visiting, Joanne. Yes, Wiesner's version of The Three Pigs is quite a fun departure from the traditional tale.


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