We just got our Very Silly Mayor in the mail today, in time for my son's 5th birthday tomorrow. It was a perfect thing to read after the first day of Kindergarten. He loved it and so did I. Great work! More please!
* * *
It would be a Very Silly Reader who expected Tom Tomorrow to write a children's book that didn't have a point to make. But it might surprise some readers to discover that point isn't some heavy political lesson, but is actually the type of common-sense moral that has been the basis for children's stories all the way back to Aesop.
The story and its messsage are, basically, an update on the timeless classic "The Emperor's New Clothes". In TVSM, Sparky the penguin, Tom Tomorrow's longtime voice of reason in his "This Modern World" comics, discovers that the Mayor of his medium-sized town has begun acting on some ideas that are - surprise! - Very Silly, indeed. (As a resident of a medium-sized city that has had its share of Very Silly Mayors, I sympathize.) Everyone else in town seems very happy with these ideas, but Sparky discovers that they may not be as happy as they say they are.
The book is filled with highly entertaining and colorful artwork. Fans of TMW will recognize Tomorrow's style, as well as some of his stock faces (Blinky the dog is also on hand). And if Sparky is his usual self in that he is unafraid to say what he thinks, he does so in a polite and respectful tone that is appropriate in a tale for all ages.
* * *
As a book that adults and children can all enjoy, "The Very Silly Mayor" will be quite comfortable next to my copies of such classics as "Go Dog Go" and "The Cat in the Hat".
Just wanted to say that I and my little girl (just about 4) LOVE the book. She made me read it to her three times in a row last night and this morning.
* * *
At first I thought this was just another retelling of the Emperor's New Clothes story. Then I realized there was a political message about the role of the media and their failure to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. Then I read it to my 5-year-old and found that there was a message about speaking up against peer pressure, and also that peer pressure might not be pushing the way you think: it's more about what you perceive than what others impose.
When a short children's book can do all of the above, plus some fun illustrations, and a few really funny moments ... that's a definite success for me. I hope I can be reading this one at bedtimes for a while!
* * *
Tom Tomorrow's first book for children!
NEW (as of 11/16/10): A special holiday offer! For a limited time only, you can order signed copies of The Very Silly Mayor directly from the publisher! Click here and use Paypal button to order. (Note: Cutoff date Dec. 12; due to logistics these cannot be personalized.)
Scroll down for sample pages
"This is a funny book with an important message -- we need more penguins in government!" -- Dave Barry
"I have always admired Tom Tomorrow for his keen intelligence and penguin-based wit, but now he has unnerved me with a story of socio-political chaos that is at once completely ridiculous and sadly familiar." -- Lemony Snicket
"My kid loves it -- I love the message." -- Sam Seder
Sample pages (click to see full page)
NEW (as of 11/16/10): A special holiday offer! For a limited time only, you can order signed copies of The Very Silly Mayor directly from the publisher! Click here to order. (Note: Cutoff date Dec. 12; due to logistics these cannot be personalized.)
To order from Amazon click here!
The worry, of course, with a kid book written by uber-snarkmeister cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, is that Mr. Tomorrow is writing for the parents - that the very silly mayor is in fact a member of the Bush family and Sparky the Penguin is doing his usual emperor-has-no-clothes schtick, and kids will find it amusing but parents will nod smugly. "That George Bush," they'll smirk internally. "What a dorkus."
But that is not what Tom Tomorrow has done here. Sure, you could read the very silly mayor, with his pronouncements that firefighters should use peanut butter to put out fires instead of water, and that everyone should paint their houses purple and green, as George Bush. But you could read the very silly mayor as just about any authority figure that people follow without question. Your third-grade teacher, for example.
The book is, in the end, about dissent. It's about speaking up when you don't understand something, or when you have an opinion, or when you think that cops can't possibly catch robbers when they're wearing clown shoes. Plus - silly!
....Sparky is an amenable, roll-up-your-sleeves rebel -- he agrees to work for the mayor, in exchange for dialing back the harebrained schemes. When I asked my sons what they thought the story was about, they said, on cue, "how political people can be really, really wrong." Indeed. With kid-friendly, eye-catching pictures.
And a video review from a very young reader (from this site). Don't let anyone try to tell you that young children won't be captivated by this book!
I just wanted to let you know that my copy arrived late today. In
fact, it arrived right before my five-month old's bedtime.
Serendipity. We have read to Elliot most nights for a couple of
months now and have noticed that he enjoys them to some extent. There
are ones that have a fabric swatch to engage the tactile senses. He
will sometimes coo or glance at the tired old drawings. Mostly, he
looks at me as I try to create different voices for the characters in
the book. He has not ever, until now, seemed to be so mesmerized and
engaged by the pictures on the pages in his book. He was very upset
when I closed the book and demanded to hold it for a while (and of
course put it in his mouth). I think this stands as a good review for
the book. The bold colors and clean crisp lines are very striking and
make for an engaging read. As parents, the story is great for the
kid, and I think little Elliot will grow up over the next few years
learning to read and learning to enjoy reading with this book next to
I guess we will have to read it to him tomorrow night. Thanks.
* * *
My 4 year old was home sick today- completely unexpectedly The Very Silly Mayor arrived- I had forgotten I had pre-ordered. I am a fan of Tom Tomorrow's work (full disclosure: I've interviewed him on the radio), but wasn't sure how it would translate into a kid's book. My daughter loves books but can be pretty particular- she saw the cover as I opened up the package and demanded I read it to her.
She was quiet and engaged as I read. I wasn't sure as to whether she liked it, but I was very happy with the message. Not political in any type of ideological or partisan sense, the book has a strong message of believing in your own perspective, in not being cowed by peer pressure or common wisdom and in questioning authority. I can't tell you what a relief it is to read a book to my child that isn't a marketing ploy, doesn't involve shopping or the notion that she should be looking for a prince to marry.
The true and really only relevant test came on the last page- she demanded I read it to her again. We ended up reading it four times in a row- each time she became more engaged in the characters and asked more questions. I have no idea if she is absorbing the message of this book but in the end I'm only interested in books that she likes and I can feel good about reading to her. This book scores a ten on both accords.