Well, they won't really "laugh their heads off," but then that's the point of Arnold's latest book -- Parts!...
Panic strikes a pop-eyed boy, the main character in Parts, when he discovers a few stray hairs in his comb. Could baldness be far behind? To compound the alarm, he digs a piece of fuzz out of his belly button. (His stuffing must be coming out!) A loose tooth adds to the frenzy. And some yucky stuff drips from his nose, which -- when viewed under a magnifying glass -- looks strangely like the encyclopedia illustration of his brain! Could it be?
"Now I'm really worried, I'm
As scared as I can be.
'Cause finally what's happening
Is very clear to see
The glue that holds
our parts together
isn't holding me!!"
What will be next to go?, the boy wonders.
"One day I might be playing ball
And have my arm fall off.
Or maybe I could lose my head
If suddenly I cough."
But, lucky for the little boy, Dad has lots of masking tape. What better way to hold things together! When the boy's parents discover their child mummified in masking tape, it's clearly time for a little reassurance. The boy -- and readers -- breathe a sigh of relief at the parents' explanation that what appears a sure catastrophe is really quite normal. But the relief is brief:
"So all of me is normal. Whew!
That's really good to hear!
Then tell me, what's this yellow stuff
I got out of my ear?"
Kids will love Arnold's zany rhyme. And the book's high "gross-out factor" adds to its appeal! (C'mon adults, loosen up!)
Even the dedication is great fun: "For Mike, John, Fred, Matt, Phil, and Ryan. Keep it together, guys!"
But the best part of this new picture book is its pictures! Arnold's hilarious watercolors capture all the fun -- and the seriousness -- of the child's anxieties. Arnold misses no opportunity to connect with kids in his nightmare-come-to-life pictures. And little colored-pencil curlicues in the background of each illustration add a unique and playful texture.
Use Parts as a nice break during your study of the human body (the subject of this week's Education World lesson planning story. Or make it part of an author study focusing on Tedd Arnold's "body" of work, including Green Wilma, No Jumping on the Bed!, No More Water in the Tub!, and The Signmaker's Assistant.
Or use it just for fun!
Parts is sure to please. It must be "part" of your school library collection!
Parts is available in bookstores everywhere. If you are unable to locate a copy of the book, ask your bookseller to order it for you. The book is written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold and is published by Dial Books for Young Readers (a division of Penguin USA). Write to Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1998 Education World