When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

4.3 13
by Al Yankovic, Wes Hargis

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A boy's careening imagination fuels the zingy verse and art in this lighthearted take on a familiar theme. Comedian and musical satirist Yankovic opens his first children's book with Billy hogging the spotlight during show-and-tell: "I proudly stood up and began my oration/ Concerning my choice for a future vocation." His formality gives way to freewheeling fantasies as he envisions himself a world-famous chef ("My walls will be filled with awards that I've gotten/ For toast-on-a-stick and my Twinkies au gratin"), a snail trainer ("Why, that's a no-brainer!"), a lathe operator, and a giraffe milker ("It's oh-so-cliché to get milk from a cow,/ And I bet all those cows need a break anyhow"). The tempo quickens when the boy begins listing rather than describing potential professions, even the most mainstream of which Hargis (Jackson and Bud's Bumpy Ride) portrays with comedic hyperbole. He offers especially outlandish depictions of Billy as gorilla masseuse, deodorant tester, and tarantula shaver. After all the wackiness, Yankovic's poem wraps up on a more realistic note, as the boy finds career inspiration closer to school. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
“A rare book with appeal to both kids and adults.”
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
During show-and-tell time, young Billy can't wait to tell us, and the class, what he will be when he grows up. In rhymed couplets filled with word play, Billy begins to describe a series of vocations. He imagines himself as a famous chef, a snail-trainer in the circus, or a lathe operator. He moves on, "for laughs," to a giraffe-milker, a gorilla masseuse, a rodeo clown, and many, many more possibilities. Finally his teacher, Mrs. Krupp, calls a halt. When pressed for a decision, Billy notes that he'd like to keep his options open. But he has a nice surprise for her on the last double page. Hargis's comic details flesh out the mere mention of the many possible jobs. The inventive color drawings begin on the jacket, where Billy stands on a bulldozer wearing a fireman's hat and carrying a wrench. Front and back end pages add to the fun. Each scene is filled with action from the snails in the circus to the carving of an Easter-Island-like statue from chocolate mousse. The humor should also encourage readers to keep their career options open as well. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Eight-year-old Billy has an active imagination and a host of interests. So, when it's time for show-and-tell, he can barely contain himself as he describes, nonstop, what he'd like to be when he grows up. His career choices include chef, snail trainer, lathe operator, gorilla masseuse, an artist whose preferred medium is chocolate mousse, sumo wrestler, pickle inspector...and on and on. Mrs. Krupp's attempts to call "time up" are unsuccessful. He's just getting started. Billy is still pondering vocational choices at lunchtime when he comes up with one more possibility—a great teacher like Mrs. Krupp. The story has a nice premise, but it doesn't quite live up to its potential. In addition, the rhyming text can be distracting. Well-done, realistic and colorful watercolor and ink illustrations accompany the story, but overall this book is a supplemental purchase.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.90(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years


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When I Grow Up 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
MommyTimesFour More than 1 year ago
We love this book! I read it to my children almost every night. Entertaining, comical, and just plain fun!
JAN53JN More than 1 year ago
I love this book for younger readers. I put it on my Nook Color so I can show it on the Smartboards at school when I do my career lessons with my younger students. I am a school counselor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a cute book and can teach children they can be whatever they want when they grow up. Great for reading to an elementary class.
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