When you live with small children, you are often subjected to all sorts of media you would gladly ignore. Because I am cold-hearted, I have an absolute zero tolerance policy toward children's music, the Berenstein Bears are completely banished, and Rainbow Fish makes me want to fry him in butter. Then there's a second tier of things that are more beloved by parents than children, or the other way around. Why oh why can't you love Outside Over There
like I do? Okay, fine, I'll read you the Bakugan handbook again.
This book, like Mythbusters, is a rare animal indeed, garnering both parental and childish love. We all love this book
. The plot: a boy has woken up on another planet and can't figure out how to get home. Everything is sort of familiar, but the dog has a trumpet nose and his mother has two heads. He decides to play it cool, and heads off in search of the way back. He meets a horse named Buck who claims to know the way, but then it turns out that Buck is really a donkey in horse suit, and his real name is Tulip. Quoth Tulip at this point: “Everybody loves a horse.” They meet up with a bunch of other animals in horse costumes who try to give advice: run around in your underwear, follow your nose, or scratch your head a lot, that usually helps, to note a few of the helpful suggestions. He eventually works it out, and wakes up at home.
The reason I love this book is its insane quotability and the way it perfectly captures the randomness of the dream state. One line in particular, “Don't worry, I have a cellphone,” gets said around the homestead a lot. I like when the sidewalk ends for no good reason. The art is fun and cool, and has odd visual flourishes like tree penguins fishing for god-knows-what with bananas. I can't say exactly why the kids like it, but it may be because the dream-weirdness never pitches off into terrifying nightmare land or precious whimsy. But then no, maybe it's just me who hates whimsy.