Although my CYBILS responsibilities as a round 2 judge won’t start until January, I do want to spend the next couple of months trying to review some of the fictional picture books on the 2012 list. I am kicking off today with I’M BORED, published last month. I am grateful for having received a review copy from Simon and Schuster.
Written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 2012
Themes: Boredom, fantasy, creative play, potatoes
First lines and synopsis:
The protagonist, a sharp, cute young girl, gets right to the point of her ennui in her opening lines:
“I’m bored. Bored. Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I’m so BORED.”
The only possible distraction in sight is a potato. But, as the little girl says while tossing the potato up in the air, “what can you do with a potato?”
Black immediately captures our interest by the spud falling on the girl’s head and talking, echoing the girl’s opening, “I’m bored!” Why? because the potato only has a little kid to play with, whereas it would have much preferred a flamingo playmate. Debbie Ridpath Ohi portrays the put-out kid beautifully and the girl begins demonstrating to the potato in six action-filled double-paged spreads, why kids are sooo much fun. Kids can walk on their hands, pretend to be e.g. a ballerina, fly etc. To each suggestion the potato replies with one word: “Boring”. Well, except to the girl pretending to be a dragon or unicorn, when it replies, “Snoring” (which, I think, will send kids into fits of giggles as it did me). The potato is not to be convinced and the girl goes off in a kiddy huff!
Exit girl stage left and enter Pink Flamingo stage right, whereupon the potato gets real excited, convinced its boredom is over, only to be told by the snooty pink bird: “I’m bored.”
Why I like this book:
Anyone with kids or who has contact with kids, or remembers their own childhood, will relate to this utterance. Kids will certainly recognize themselves in these humorous pages – both their capacity for boredom and for infinitely creative play.
The illustrations of the girl on bare white backgrounds accentuate her dilemma and then focus on her star creative qualities. I also noted on downloading the cover for this review that unusually the cover does not include author and illustrator names, also cleverly accentuating the title, I’M BORED.
The anthropomorphism and arrogance of this potato are hilarious and Ohi manages to capture this root vegetable’s ‘potatotude’ magnificently. It’s a comic romp with lively cartoon-like digital illustrations, with awesome facial expressions on both girl and spud. While written and illustrated for certain laughs, readers are also left with a great underlying question about what makes us bored or indeed boring!