Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yes Day!! Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (2009)

Yes Day!
Yes Day! is another incredibly clever collaboration by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, the pair who are also responsible for Duck! Rabbit! (among others).  The premise is simple but irresistible:  Imagine that for one whole day each year, you are the boss, and your parents have to honor your every request!!  The kid appeal is obvious; this may be the most blatant wish-fulfillment fantasy I've ever seen.  But adults will appreciate how smartly this book is crafted, enjoy its rich humor and its gentle warmth, and be reminded of how powerful simple pleasures can be.

On each pair of pages, the image on the right conveys the child's request, as well as its context; readers must flip the page to see the wish fulfilled, heightening our feeling of anticipation.  These wish-fulfillment scenes dominate the book, each one rendered far more boldly than the scene of request, typically as full-bleed images that often extend onto the facing page or take up two pages (the play of borders and white-space is, not coincidentally, reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are).  Lichtenheld's cartoonish artwork enriches the book's natural humor and strikes exactly the right note.  The illustrations often contain details (subtle and not-so-subtle) of event and context that are barely hinted at in the understated text, catching us by surprise and deepening the comedic effects.  For example, while we know that "Can I Use Your Hair Gel" will not end well, we don't know until we turn the page that "Yes Day" also happens to be Formal Family Portrait Day and that a goofy beret-wearing box-camera aficionado will capture Junior's bow tie and a spiky mohawk combo for posterity.  Deceptively simple but profoundly expressive, the visual text effectively conveys the protagonist's high energy and great delight as well as the intimacy and joy of the parent-child relationship. 

Miss E's Read:  She absolutely adores the concept behind this book---what's not to love??? (assuming that you're a kid, that is).  Her favorite part, though, may be the endpapers, which depict a calendar full of "no" days---"You Gotta Be Kidding Me Day," "Over My Dead Body Day," When Pigs Fly Day"---that are genuinely funny to adults and laugh-out-loud hilarious to small children.  Adults should be warned, however, that this is a "can and will be used against you" page.

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