If Roast Beef Could Fly

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Overview

The Tonight Show's Jay Leno draws on a true story from his childhood to make a generation of young readers laugh out loud.

Little Jay's mom is maniacally thrifty, his dad is extravagant, and little Jay always seems to be caught in the middle. So when Jay's dad decides that his next big "project" is going to be an ENORMOUS barbecue patio, the only way it's going to happen is if Jay, their neighbors, and Bruce, the laziest dog in America, help ...

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Whitehead, S.B. Riverside, New Jersey, U.S.A. 2004 Pictorial Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. 4to-over 9?"-12" tall. Spine is slightly bumped at bottom. Includes CD ... of Jay Leno reading the book. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The Tonight Show's Jay Leno draws on a true story from his childhood to make a generation of young readers laugh out loud.

Little Jay's mom is maniacally thrifty, his dad is extravagant, and little Jay always seems to be caught in the middle. So when Jay's dad decides that his next big "project" is going to be an ENORMOUS barbecue patio, the only way it's going to happen is if Jay, their neighbors, and Bruce, the laziest dog in America, help him out.

When the party to launch the patio arrives, there's more food than anyone could eat, and at the center is a HUGE roast beef that Jay would do anything to get a taste of. No one will notice if he sneaks a bite, will they? That is, until Jay's secret plan backfires!

What is Jay's secret weapon to sample a bit of the roast beef? Will he keep his dad from finding out? And finally, what could make a roast beef fly?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Comedian and Tonight Show host Jay Leno beefs up his repertoire with this meaty story in book-and-CD format.

Enhanced with S. B. Whitehead's hilarious illustrations of a young, 1950s-era Leno with slicked-back hair and rolled-up pant legs, the book begins with the famous comic’s amusing reminiscences about his colorful family -- particularly his Italian-American dad, who decides one summer to build “the greatest barbecue ever!" After an over-the-top trip to Hardware Supermax for a heap of new patio materials, construction ensues ("This is what it must have been like to watch the building of the pyramids of Egypt!"), and the family holds a big end-of-summer barbecue blast to celebrate its completion. At the party, little Jay catches a whiff of the succulent roast beef and performs a sneaky trick to get a taste. Unfortunately the trick backfires, resulting in the flying roast of the story’s title and upsetting everyone except family dog! However, all is not lost, and the party is saved by ”more than four hundred pounds of cole slaw, eight tons of macaroni, and all the salad you can eat!"

Whitehead's illustrations are loaded with witty visual extras, while the CD of Leno reading his summery tale adds an entertaining dimension. Here’s a chuckler that can proudly stand alongside picture books by comedians Jerry Seinfeld (Halloween) and Carl Reiner (Tell Me a Scary Story...but Not TOO Scary!). Shana Taylor

Publishers Weekly
Comedian Leno adapts a family-friendly stand-up bit for this pleasantly silly picture book. Dad, famous for his overblown projects, decides to build a patio deck and a giant barbecue rotisserie in the backyard. After a trip to the "Hardware Supermax store" ("Okay! We need five hundred bricks! Two hundred pounds of cement!" says Dad) and a few months of tinkering, his father unveils the rotisserie. As a giant roast beef turns on the spit for the Leno family's end-of-summer barbecue, young Jay's mouth waters. ("Juice is dripping! Fat is sizzling!... I'm dying to taste the roast beef.") Jay whips out his "secret weapon" a plastic comband repeatedly steals some drippings with the unorthodox implement. But to Jay's great dismay, the comb ends up stuck in the roast, prompting a chaotic and funny denouement. Though many youngsters will miss some of the humor that falls between the lines (which adults will enjoy), the wacky scenario is likely to keep children interested (especially young Jay's anxious look as he awaits the inevitable). Leno's talent for storytelling and affection for his family shines throughespecially on his CD recording of the text (packaged with the book). Whitehead (Red Foley's Cartoon History of Baseball) exaggerates the features and expressions of the characters in his crisply rendered watercolors, in keeping with the farcical tenor of the tale. Period details from automobiles and clothing to furniture add flavor. And his likeness of Leno basically a miniature version of the TV personality is particularly engaging. All ages. (Mar.) FYI: National laydown date is March 23. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
With just a few additions, this would make a marvelous wordless book. Whitehead's illustrations are rich with detail and humor and easily eclipse the text. He depicts the characters as caricatures with recognizable faces and cartoon bodies, and the expressions on each face are wonderfully entertaining. However, as do others in the growing cadre of famous people who write children's books, Leno successfully carries off a story that children can enjoy and that may elicit a chuckle or two from the adults. The tall tale of a summer project exaggerates each step in the construction of a patio to hold a rotisserie to cook the best roast beef for an end-of-summer party. If it occasionally sounds like a monologue, well, it is Jay Leno's story. In the best marketing tradition, the book sports a comb (a joke in itself) and a CD of Leno reading the story. His narration enlivens the text and leaves the reader free to indulge in the illustrations. 2004, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages all.
—Diane Carver Sekeres
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In this meager offering, a young narrator (a Jay Leno look-alike with short legs) describes his father, who likes to do things in a big way. Dad decides to build a patio complete with rotisserie, and the boy gleefully rides the wave of his enthusiasm. The narrative jumps from buying supplies to the advice of neighbors to the finished project and a final summer picnic. As a huge roast beef spins on the spit and everyone else goes inside, the boy is left alone with the "amazing spectacle." Touching the meat with his plastic comb, he licks the juices off it until it gets caught in the string around the beef and begins to melt. At the table, Dad tries to cut the roast, discovers the plastic, and throws the whole thing out the window, whereby it's caught in a flying leap by the dog. Fortunately, Dad's Italian relatives have brought "several different tons of food" and Dad, undefeated, is already dreaming up his next project. This book is mired in excess. The disjointed text relies on exaggeration to hook readers. Every scene is so over the top both visually and verbally that there's no subtlety of characterization or meaningful introspection. The garishness of the narrative is matched by the full-color, Mad Magazine-like illustrations where people appear as larger-than-life caricatures. Some youngsters may be carried along on the crest of this wave. More insightful readers will recognize the ensuing emptiness. A CD of Leno reading the story is included.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
What does it mean when a publisher specifically instructs that a review of a celebrity-written book not appear before its publication? Nothing good-and late-night star Leno's maiden offering for kids lives up to this promise. Leno takes a promising concept-the overachieving dad's new "project" (in this case, a new patio with rotisserie)-and grinds it into the dirt. Jay (big-jawed even in childhood), his dad, and the family dog, Bruce, pile into the car to the Hardware Supermax, load up on supplies, and haul it home to the clucking of his thrifty mom's tongue. When the patio is finally built, little Jay starts shaving off bits of the inaugural roast with his comb-which then melts onto the beef, at last precipitating the act that inspires the title. The tale is told at the top of the authorial lungs, with no modulation in tone whatsoever. What in a cleverer craftsman's hands could have been a terrifically kid-centered tale about parental foibles becomes a non-stop shout; magazine-illustrator Whitehead's accompanying pictures suit the text perfectly, matching its lack of subtlety decibel for decibel. A CD with Leno himself performing the text reveals that his reading is as tone-deaf as his writing. (Picture book. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689867675
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/23/2004
  • Edition description: BOOK & CD
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Leno is the host of the Emmy Award-winning and number-one-rated The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, celebrating its twelfth anniversary in May 2004. Leno is the author of Leading with My Chin (HarperCollins), his autobiography. This is his first book for children. Jay was born in New Rochelle, New York, and was raised in Andover, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Mavis, live in Los Angeles. In his spare time, he enjoys working on his collection of classic cars and motorcycles.
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Interviews & Essays

An interview with Jay Leno

In If Roast Beef Could Fly you poke gentle fun at your mother's thriftiness and your father's penchant for the extravagant. Did you inherit either of these characteristics?

JL: I think I inherited some of both traits. In families there are always conflicts of one kind or another. The comedy comes from conflict, the ability to see the humor in it all.

What inspired you to write a children's book?

JL: I've been telling these family stories for years -- in my act, on talk shows, to friends and colleagues. In fact, I was telling one of these stories to a publisher at Simon & Schuster and he asked me if I ever considered writing them down and making a book out of them. I told him: "Not until you brought it up." I think what makes them, and this story in particular, so appealing is that everyone can relate to them. Kids, adults, grandparents can all laugh at it.

What is the significance of the car that is featured in the book's illustrations?

JL: It, the 1953 Hudson Hornet, is one of my favorites. It's a car I own now, but my family didn't own it when I was growing up. What makes it perfect for the book is that it doesn't look like anything out on the road today. It's different than what kids think a car looks like. It's big. It's round. It's bulbous. It's got that fun, "talking car" look about it.

At what age did you become interested in cars?

JL: I've been interested in cars ever since I was a kid. I still remember sitting on my dad's lap in our 1957 Belvedere. It was black and white with big fins. I would be holding the steering wheel, and my dad would have his feet on the pedals. Of course, that's child endangerment now.

The story in If Roast Beef Could Fly seems too hilarious to be true. Is it?

JL: Actually it is true. It really happened, the whole thing -- from my dad building the rotisserie, to my putting the comb in the roast beef and my dad throwing the meat. My dog caught it and tore it up. It was hilarious.

You probably have a lot of fun stories about growing up. What made you choose this particular one?

JL: This is just one of many funny stories. When I was a kid, there were people around all the time. I was surrounded by family. It helped me to understand adults, to see what they laughed at. This particular story works on a lot of levels because it's about family, love, and conflict. If it is successful, I'll do more.

Your book features a dog named Bruce. What other pets did you have as a child? Do you have any now?

JL: Bruce was my only pet growing up. He was a black-and-white collie. Now my wife has a cat.

At what age did you know you were funny?

JL: My mother would always say, "There is a time to be serious. And there is a time to be funny." My mother said she hated showing off. But I think that secretly she got a kick out of it. My father, on the other hand, liked to be the center of attention. He liked being funny. So it was up to me to decide when it was the right time for me. And I guess in high school, being voted class clown helped me realize I was good at being funny.

Did your family encourage your comedic talents?

JL: My family didn't discourage it. But we lived in a small town, and going into show business was not a practical option. Dad was a salesman, a good one. He became a manager and once a month he would give presentations and pep talks to the other salesmen. I would watch him write jokes as a way to motivate them. I thought that would be an interesting way to make a living. Be a salesman and make jokes. But I didn't take comedy seriously until college.

One of the messages in If Roast Beef Could Fly seems to be that you should not be afraid to dream BIG! Is that what you'd like kids to take away from this story?

JL: What I'd like kids to see and understand is that families can be a lot of fun. You can learn a lot about life and about the world from watching your family.

Did you give S. B. Whitehead (the illustrator) any help in depicting your family in the book?

JL: I really didn't give him any help. I did send him a whole bunch of family photos to work from. And I think he did a wonderful job of capturing my family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    'I Love It!....says 5 yr old grandson

    I bought book for my grandson several months ago. Since the first reading, he has enjoyed Jay's book immensely and listens to CD (after we read the book) and before going to sleep. Eli enjoys having book read to him frequently, and would recommend this story to his friends. Only question he has: - 'JAY, DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN TO YOU?'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2004

    Unreadable

    Being curious if this book was as bad as most other celebrity children¿s books, I read it in the book store (one of the fortunate ones who didn¿t buy it). This would have never been published without a famous name attached. It was too long, unfunny and too much plot for a children¿s book. When will publishers stop publishing bad children¿s books written by celebrities just because they sell and when will the public stop buying them?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    hilarious

    my kids love it.the best endorsement

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2004

    Flying Beneath Kids' Radar...

    Mildly amusing for adults, but kids 7 and under barely cracked a smile. They liked the pictures, though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2004

    If Roast Beef Could Fly

    I made the huge mistake of purchasing this book. The only thing worse than reading this to young children, is listening to Jay read it with them. For some reason Jay comes off sounding very disturbing and creepy. My daughter couldn't sleep after listening to it. I wouldn't recommend it for children under the age of 10.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2004

    If Roast Beef Could Fly

    After I read this book I found myself asking Why? Why would someone like Jay Leno who is creatively bankrupt think that he could successfully write a childrens book that kids would enjoy. I found this book to be incredibly difficult for children to grasp and find entertaining. I can't in good faith even though I'm a huge Leno fan recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2004

    If Roast Beef Could Fly

    If only this book could fly! After reading this story to my 5 year old son he tossed it out the window. This book is neither fun nor funny, its just not. I'm not sure exactly what age child this book is geared towards but I can't imagine any child actually enjoying it. Jay needs to stick to doing that lame show of his. I'm only giving it 1 star b/c they won't allow anything less.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2004

    a very funny book with classic 'mad' style art

    If you grew up in the fifties and want to give your kids any sense of what that world was like, there's no better picture book than jay leno's hilarious book. There's no need for a kid to know who Leno is since the humor is about his father, his family and the epic construction of a patio!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2004

    JAY LENO'S DEBUT CHILDREN BOOK IS BIG BUT MEATY

    Jay Leno believes that roast beef can fly... now that he has his first work of beautifully illustrated children's humor has book critics singing the blues! 'If Roast Beef Can Fly...' then why the host of NBC's venerable 'Tonight Show' go after a flying food being cooked on a barbeque grill? This beuatifully written - but delightfully hilarious book will enlight- en any boy or girl with wit, wisdom... and a whole lot of roasting going on!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2004

    If Roast Beef Could Fly

    I am a huge Jay Leno fan and rushed right to the bookstore when I heard of this book. I was absolutely devistated to find out how poorly the book was written and how negatively my children reacted to it when I read it to them. Jay should stick to doing his wonderful late night television show where I can always count on the same safe material that my 4 year old and I absolutely love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2004

    Horrible!

    I'm not sure what age group this book is geared towards but it is absolutely horrible. My 3 year old hated it, my 6 year old hated it, and I hated it.

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