Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude

Come on, how could you not pick up a book with that title? Cool Motorcycle Dudette, a wonderful children's librarian I work with, first pointed this book out to me, and it is just as fun as the title.

The premise of the book is reminiscent of those horrific group projects they force you into at school, where you invariably get put with someone you can't stand who either disagrees with everything you suggest or won't do any work at all. (I always preferred the ones who didn't do any work at all, because at least I could make sure it all turned out okay.)

The protagonists here are a boy and a girl who are suffering through once such group assignment.
They have to make up a story together, but their artistic visions aren’t exactly what you'd call compatible. The girl begins the story with Barbie-like Princess Tenderheart and her eight beautiful ponies with names so sickeningly sweet as to make the boy want to gag. A giant steals her ponies each night, and the princess cries and cries. The boy can't take it anymore, and he continues with his part of the story. Enter his hero (you guessed it): a cool motorcycle dude. The girl is disgusted. "As if," she scoffs. "He's not even cute or anything." The story lurches on, each telling their own part (turns out the princess is not a wuss after all), each thwarting the other when they can, but taking the story in fun directions all the while. Very clever, and very funny.

The illustrations are superb. Three artists use contrasting styles to differentiate between the girl and boy as narrators (a fun, cartoon style), the girl's narrative (bright acrylics in pastel colors) , and the boy's narrative (darker, dramatic images in oil and acrylics).

I'm unclear why, but my library shelves this book with the chapter books, even though it is a picture book -- I guess it is a bit violent and possibly confusing to very young readers, with its story-within-a-story format and alternating viewpoints. The book claims it's for ages 6 -10, and I'd agree with that. Although, of course, I'd bump the end age up a few decades -- but that's just me!

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O'Malley (author/illustrator), Carol Heyer (illustrator) and Scott Goto (illustrator). Walker Publishing Company, 2005


  1. This book is awesome and FUNNY!!!!!!!!!!

  2. You should read it.

  3. Anonymous - I'm glad you like this book! I laugh every time I read it. :-)


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