Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

I like books that get your attention right from the start, and lines like “Mom says, ‘Billy Twitters, clean up your room, or we’re buying you a blue whale,’” do exactly that. They get your attention.

Honestly, this book had me with the advertisements inside the front cover. Seaman Stubb’s Do-It-Yourself Sailor Tattoo Kit sold me on their “Hula Girl” design, and what self-respecting book reviewer could pass on a mail order course from Professor Pequot on Monkey Training or Scurvy Etiquette?

But this book isn’t about tattoos or monkeys or vitamin C deficiency. It’s about Billy Twitters, a boy who doesn’t clean his room, doesn’t brush his teeth, doesn’t finish his baked peas … and does end up with a blue whale.

And all the responsibilities that come with it.

Billy needs to take his blue whale to school. He needs to feed it. He needs to play with it, clean it, and check it for barnacles. The book follows Billy through Day One of blue whale ownership. In the end, Billy does learn responsibility. He also learns hanging out inside a whale, at least his blue whale, isn’t nearly as bad as that guy Jonah made it out to be.

Kids will certainly enjoy the story, but adults will enjoy it on another level. Kids will find it funny that Billy tows his blue whale to school on a skateboard behind his bike, but it’s the adults who will giggle when they realize Billy lives in San Francisco. Kids will like Billy’s Blue Whale Owner’s Manual, but the adults will notice the manual resembles the emergency cards in commercial airplanes. (And that whales apparently have emergency exit routes.)

This is what makes Mac Barnett and Adam Rex’s book such a winner: Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem will have both kids and adults laughing. And it’s books like Billy Twitters – books that kids and adults enjoy together – that truly Help Readers Love Reading!

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