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Meet the Dullards

Meet the Dullards

by Sara Pennypacker, Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)

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In the tradition of The Stupids, Meet the Dullards is a clever and irreverent picture book about a comically boring family, from bestselling author Sara Pennypacker and illustrator Daniel Salmieri.

Their home is boring. Their food is plain. Their lives are monotonous. And Mr. and Mrs. Dullard like it that way.

But their children—Blanda,


In the tradition of The Stupids, Meet the Dullards is a clever and irreverent picture book about a comically boring family, from bestselling author Sara Pennypacker and illustrator Daniel Salmieri.

Their home is boring. Their food is plain. Their lives are monotonous. And Mr. and Mrs. Dullard like it that way.

But their children—Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud—have other ideas. . . .

Never has dullness been so hilarious than in this deadpan, subversive tale.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Bruce Handy
Meet the Dullards made me laugh out loud, even when reading otherwise silently to myself. Reading it to a 5-year-old might provoke the giggle equivalent of a feedback loop; clearly there is much in this satire of helicopter parenting to which both sides of that divide can relate. I appreciated that Pennypacker resolves her story without forcing Mr. and Mrs. Dullard to embrace spontaneity and imagination and color and all the other things that movies and books always insist make life worth living. (Those things do make life worth living, but it's tiresome to keep hearing about it.) Pennypacker grants the Dullard parents their dignity and integrity, and melancholy too, as does the illustrator, Daniel Salmieri…who renders the grays in the family wardrobe with richness, texture and maybe even love.
Publishers Weekly
Are the Dullards worthy successors to Allard and Marshall’s Stupids? Not quite. The Stupids are all exuberantly stupid, whereas only the Dullard parents are dull (and rather resolutely so); their children are another matter. As the story opens, siblings Blanda, Borely and Little Dud have been inspired by books to develop fascinating talents (juggler, animal whisperer, and funambulist, respectively), which eventually culminates in their joining the circus. In the meantime, it’s a battle of wills as Mr. and Mrs. Dullard try to keep the horrors of an interesting life at bay, such as floral wallpaper or a neighbor’s applesauce cake (“Smooth or chunky applesauce?” Mr. Dullard inquires. “Chunks are so unpredictable. So nerve-racking”). Pennypacker (the Clementine series) and Salmieri (Secret Pizza Party) are clearly mining a satiric vein—the Dullards are essentially helicopter parents on overdrive—but even when the visual jokes are working (as when the family is mesmerized by watching beige-grey paint dry) the book doesn’t quite achieve the high silliness of its premise. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)
“Pennypacker packs the pages full of winning jokes, while Salmieri’s colored-pencil art creates a perfectly monotonous world of straight angles and nondescript coloring. Rarely has boring been this boisterous.”
Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
“Pennypacker’s droll, deadpan text is matched by Salmieri’s flat and hilarious illustrations.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Kids will immediately pick up the concept and make it into their own joke, and they’ll agree that this is the most enjoyable tedium they’ve ever experienced.”
School Library Journal
★ 02/01/2015
K-Gr 2—In this tongue-in-cheek tale, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard take great pride in being humdrum. Family activities include watching paint dry and savoring vanilla ice cream ("Hold the cones. And extract the vanilla"). The Dullards are horrified at exclamation marks, flowered wallpaper, and sociable neighbors bearing gifts of applesauce cake. They try their best to shelter their children from such colorful influences. Away from their parents' watchful gaze, however, Salmieri's colored-pencil illustrations humorously show Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud breaking out of their mild molds by juggling paintbrushes, climbing on clotheslines, and befriending puppies. There are also plenty of sight gags to chuckle at, from the children gathered around an unplugged, blank television screen to piles of plain cardboard boxes full of "gray shirts." VERDICT This title follows in the quirky tradition of Harry Allard's "The Stupids" books (Houghton), with clever wordplay and subversive fun that will appeal to children everywhere.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
All children wonder, at times, if parents make decisions solely to suppress fun; in this story, there is no doubt. Blanda, Borely and Little Dud—their gray clothing and straight brown hair resembling their parents'—lead an intentionally diversion-free existence. Books are confiscated and replaced with blank paper, television may be watched only when unplugged, and school attendance is denied. When a snail crosses the road, the family moves, because "[i]t's like a circus around here." Observant viewers will intuit from the siblings' contraband reading material and paint-store antics that becoming a juggler, tightrope walker and lion tamer are actually in line with their desires. They will chuckle at the dull adults' absurdity and revel in the children's rebellion. Salmieri's watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil scenes provide just enough texture and color (seen in the outside world) to maintain interest. Small, changing expressions among these oval-eyed, spindly-legged caricatures and amusing details on the cover and title page reward close looking. The difference, however, between this crew and their cousins, the Stupids and Dumb Bunnies, is that those families are ignorant together—blissfully, lovingly. Here, although there is humor in the home, there is no joy; the children struggle to entertain themselves under extreme demands for conformity. When the siblings sneak out to join the circus, readers may hope that they never return. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.60(d)
AD520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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Meet the Author

Sara Pennypacker is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Clementine series, the acclaimed novel Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and the picture books Meet the Dullards, Pierre in Love, and Sparrow Girl. She divides her time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Florida. You can visit her online at www.sarapennypacker.com.

Daniel Salmieri was born in Brooklyn, New York. After that, nothing much else happened. Oh yeah—he did illustrate some books: Dragons Love Tacos, Secret Pizza Party, and Those Darn Squirrels!

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