Contact Erica
About Books Events Blog And More!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Of Monkey Underwear and Pie

The number one question I get when I finish reading CHICKEN BUTT! with school groups is: "Now will you write a book called MONKEY BUTT?!" To which I always say, "Of course, yes!" But today I went a little farther and talked to a bunch of kindergarteners about what that would actually look like. Since these were unchartered waters, I played it safe and waded into a kindergarten I know quite well - my daughter's class.

Now, kindergarteners, as you may know, love to play with words and rhyme and be silly. So when we started talking about what other rhymes we could use for a monkey book based on the same "You know..." (what/why/how/who/where/when) questions as CHICKEN BUTT!, I got as many nonsense words as real ones. But I also got a lot of real words, including Monkey Flu and Monkey Shoe(for "who"), Monkey Hair and Monkey Bear (for "where") and Monkey Fly and Monkey Pie (for "why"). We made a big list together, then shifted into the illustration portion of our workshop.

I received several absolutely delicious-looking illustrations of Monkey Pie. I also got many, many wonderful drawings of Monkey Underwear (rhymes with "where" and is a bit derivative of CHICKEN BUTT! but I'm not litigious when it comes to kindergarteners), including Olivia's drawing of a monkey in underwear... wearing a pie, with another monkey in it, on his head. Luca drew "Monkey Loo," which appeared to be a jungle equipped with a shower, sink and toilet ("It's British for bathroom," he informed me).

I also received one "Fairy Underwear," one "Whale Underwear" and one truly priceless "Alligator-Sting-Ray... and Underwear" (from Ronan, who did "Whale Underwear"... clearly his imagination knows no bounds). I also really liked Will's drawing of a monkey with "his underwear on fire! and it's shooting hearts like slingshots! everywhere!" And Avery did a graphic-novel-worthy depiction of Super Monkey (in cape... and underwear) fighting the bad guys in a graveyard. Samuel finished his Monkey Underwear drawing, flipped his paper and created an amazing spaceship that appeared to be held together by a giant pair of BVD's.

My daughter, the little rebel, bucked the whole monkey trend and drew a "Dog Pie." Her pal Lucy presented me with a "Monkey Cow" (rhymes with "how") and a "Monkey Cat" and then proceeded to explain why monkey cats make bad pets (they poop on your rug.)

So, now I'm not much closer to finishing my draft of MONKEY BUTT!, but I have a lot more appreciation for the imaginations of my daughter's classmates. I'm going to scan a couple of the illustrations and post them here, but I wish I had room to display them all... they're that good, and funny, and inspired.

I already believed this, but I'm now more convinced than ever that if every kindergartener got a stack of paper, a tub of crayons and an hour a day to draw Monkey Underwear or whatever his or her heart desired, the world would be a better place.

Perhaps you should chose the topic of the sequel to Chicken Butt by the headgear opportunity. A monkey hat? Underwear hat? Personally, I'd like a pie hat.
I found your website for the first time today and I just wanted to let you know that Chicken Butt is my new favorite book for elementary kids. I'm a children's librarian in Madison, Wisconsin and I've been using your book in outreach storytimes all summer. I have the kids practice STOPPING LAUGHING before I even show them the cover (as in, "1, 2, 3, LAUGH! hahahahahahaha heeheeheeheeehaha STOP!") because I know that if I don't, the laughter will spiral so loud that we won't be able to ever finish the book. The kids ask me to read it EVERY TIME they see me. And I still crack up every time I read it.

Today when I finished, I had a kid tell me that the next book should be called "Chicken Butt Monkey Butt" and have BOTH of them in it.

Brilliant concept and really great comic timing for a read-aloud.

Carissa the Librarian
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?