The And Two Boys Booed Trifecta

Blogger and teacher-librarian extraordinaire Travis Jonker tweeted that someone should start a blog that focuses on furniture found in picture books. Once he convinces a blogger to take off with this idea, I would encourage him or her to focus on clothes found in picture books, too. I would suggest poring over Sophie Blackall's gorgeous illustrations. She would inspire multiple posts. Doesn't she draw the coolest furniture and clothes? 

Speaking of Sophie, the Nerdy Book Club, Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating Sophie Blackall, Judith Viorst, and And Two Boys Booed. We hope you enjoy jumping from blog to blog. 

I wrote the words in red, and Sophie wrote the words in black. Thank you, Sophie! 

When I received the manuscript for And Two Boys Booed I dropped everything I was doing and read it! For starters, even though I’m really good at saving presents until my birthday, I can’t resist reading a manuscript the second I receive it. And this was a manuscript from one of my favorite authors in the world! Judith Viorst is funny, and smart and inventive, and when you read her stories you know – without a doubt – that she gets what it’s like to be a kid.

The flaps inside And Two Boys Booed make me laugh. There was so much in Judith’s story that I wanted to show and I couldn’t fit it all in the pages, so that’s why I made the flaps. I wanted to see our boy waking up. And I needed to know what was in his pocket. And to squirm with him as he stood up and sat down and stood up again. And most of all, I really wanted to see the teacher clap. I can happily clap her hand for a long time. My studio mates caught me once. I’d been there chuckling for about ten minutes.  (It’s perfectly okay to laugh at your own jokes.)

The boy in And Two Boys Booed has a pair of lucky blue boots and pants with cool pockets. I had a lucky pencil once, which I always used for tests in school. And then one day I lost it. And I had to take a test without it. And you probably know what happened, because, as my daughter just told me, this happens in a key episode of Arthur. I totally aced the test! And I realized I wasn’t completely horrible at doing stuff, lucky pencil or no lucky pencil. Except for the things I am completely horrible at, like throwing a frisbee. And trigonometry.

If I were in a talent show I would fold a fitted sheet! It would be amazing! Unfortunately no-one has ever asked me to display my extraordinary fitted sheet folding talent.

 Picture books are good things. They are fun to read, and really good fun to make, and when we’re little they show us what the world is like. Then, at the same time as picture books show us what family means, and what it’s like to go to school, and which animals have sharp teeth, they also unlock our imaginations, and show us dragons and fairies and animals driving cars.

I still have my favorite picture books from when I was a kid, and my son, who is fifteen, keeps his on a shelf by his bed. You know, just in case he wants to visit Alexander, or Max and the Wild Things, or The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

Reading is what I do when I’m going to give myself a treat. Or when I’m homesick, or bored, or in bed with the flu. Or when I really ought to be doing chores, but more chapter. I read when I’ve run out of ideas, or when I want to learn about what people looked like before there were photographs. I read to feel what it’s like to be someone other than me. And sometimes, even though there are a gazillion books I haven’t read yet, I reread old favorites, because it’s like visiting a dear friend.

School libraries are full of funny, sad, strange, interesting books you haven’t read yet. And librarians waiting to point them out to you. If you’re lucky, that is. Some schools don’t have libraries. Some schools don’t have any books at all. I visited some schools in Rwanda this year, where the classrooms were each getting a little shelf of books. The children had never, ever seen or held a book before. They turned the pages and looked at the pictures. They were beyond excited. Up until then they had learned to read from dull sentences written on a chalk board. Can you imagine?

I remember my own school library as a warm, cozy place, the only room with carpet in the whole school. Once our whole class had a sleepover in the school library. It was the most thrilling thing that had ever happened.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I would come and visit your school. And I would have said, Yes, please, may I? I am working on a Book About Everything. And because it’s about Everything, I need lots of kids’ help. And I only have two kids. So...

Sophie, we would have a lot of fun! 

I'm excited to read Colby Sharp's interview with Judith Viorst. Please head over to his blog to see what he asked her. 

"I spent a great deal of my childhood up a tree with a book. My brother was usually in the tree next door, also with a book." -Sophie Blackall | Click here to read her entire nerdy essay. 


  1. This was great! love Sophie Blackall's work.

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

  2. Loved the trifecta today! I ordered the book this afternoon and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival!


  4. That Ms Blackall is a real wonder! Thanks for the lovely interview!!


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