Book Review - Absolutely Beastly Children

Author/Illustrator: Dan Krall
Publisher: Tricycle Press (September 28, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 years
Source: Copy for Review
Rating: Undecided

Description from GoodReads:
In this book you’ll find 26 children who are almost certainly nothing like you. You always eat your peas and say please. You, unlike Oscar, would never tell lies. And in your wildest dreams you wouldn’t play with your food the way Nancy does. But even the sweetest child can be tempt-ed to behave badly. Thankfully, Dan Krall has put together this collection to remind us just how unpleasant beastly behavior can be.

When I first read this book, I wasn't sure if I was completely grossed out by the ick factor of this book, or just morbidly fascinated by the illustrations and supporting text.  I shared it with someone at my school because I think I was really puzzled and was curious about what her reaction would be.  Things got busy and I don't think I ever got her reaction, but I put the book aside. I needed to think about this one.  

My initial reaction as an educator was "Uh-no, this is not going into my preschool or kinder classes. I do not need to encourage inappropriate behavior or have parents questioning my judgment."  But something kept nagging at me as I would come across the book at various times.  At first, I couldn't put my finger on it, but then I realized what it was.  Topps Wacky Packages.  I remember back in elementary school going to the corner store and picking up Wacky Packages - there was a stick of bubble gum in the pack and several trading card/stickers in them.  Wacky Packages were designed to be a play on name brand products such as coffee, and soda but with a really gross twist.  As kids, we loved them.  Fortunately, this moment of nostalgia made me take another look at the book.

In re-looking at the book, I realized that Krall's illustrations (think Tim Burton meets Jay Lynch) are extremely creative in a morbid & somewhat macabre manner.  Several of the supporting lines of text are fairly benign (such as "F is for Florence the Queen of Demands" or "G is for Gertrude who stays up too late").  Some are just plain silly (such as "J is for Jeffrey He knows how to whine").  But there were a few that have me debating (such as "S is for Sigmund who still wets the bed").  

As a result, I am still undecided about this one.  I probably won't be placing this in my kindergarten classrooms, but I know some 8 & 9 year olds who would find this simply hysterical.  I know my 8 year old self would have cracked up over this.  But my adult-self has decided to share this carefully.