Today’s installment of Books for Boys will take a different turn. As much as our boys are beginning to embrace chapter books and graphic novels, they can still appreciate an interesting picture book, especially when it’s read by an enthusiastic adult. In the case of the following three books, it’s best to bring your best silly game, complete with the three Vs – voices, volume and vivacity!
Our first book isn’t really a picture book at all. In fact, this is apparent from its title, The Book with No Pictures. This literary smash hit by B.J. Novak of The Office fame, is sure to delight readers and listeners alike with gibberish, silly songs demanding to be sung, refusals to read certain words and a plea at the end to never ask that this book be read again. If your boy is anything like my son, he will hang on every word and laugh his face off as long as you embrace the absurdity and really get into it. Word of warning, it may be a short book but you’ll likely read it, then your child will, then you will again… this may continue for a few cycles.
Next up, we have The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Adam Rex. In this fun-filled romp, you enter the world of everyday household objects who live in such far flung regions as the junk drawer, the freezer and on top of a desk in home office.
Our story opens with Rock, a legendary warrior who lives in the Kingdom of Backyard. Though he is undefeated in battle, he’s sad because he’d rather be challenged by a worthy foe than dominate every other object that comes along. We follow him as he decimates a clothespin hanging on a line and a surly little apricot in a tree. As expected, he’s still not fulfilled. So he leaves his kingdom on a quest to find a true challenge to his greatness.
Next we meet Paper, who spends his days doing battle with a computer printer. Of course, he easily wins the fight because all printers are terrible and easily jam. After moving on to dominate a forgotten bag of trail mix in the trash can, Paper leaves the simple confines of the home office to find greater glory.
Last, we meet Scissors, whose domain is that most forgotten corner of every home, the junk drawer. She is the fastest blade in all the land but like the others, no one can give her a proper challenge. She slices Scotch tape with ease and narrowly skirts defeat when challenging a bag of tiny frozen dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets in the freezer. Though they put up a valiant effort, Scissors is once again victorious and so leaves the kitchen to seek an equal.
Through the next several pages, the reader follows along as each of these fierce warriors encounters each other, with two of them finally being bested by the others until one (no spoilers!) is crowned the champion. The new friends spend the rest of the day engaged in friendly competition, though some say their epic battle still inspires children to honor their bravery to this day.
Our final installment is a book written by the illustrator of the previous book, Adam Rex. It’s titled Are You Scared, Darth Vader? and it’s a must read for any Star Wars fan who is somewhat drawn to the Dark Side.
This story follows Darth Vader as he’s pestered by a child asking him if he’s scared of various creatures and things, including a wolf man, a vampire, a ghost, a witch, spiders, public speaking, all of the normal scary stuff. Nope, not this guy. I mean, he’s Darth Vader, he lives for the dark and menacing!
By the end of the book, you learn that there is something he’s afraid of and though it might sail over the heads of children, it will certainly be relatable to the adults. I won’t ruin the surprise but it’s safe to say, this is another book that when delivered with the right voices and enthusiasm, will be read at least twice in each sitting.