Reviewed: “Weird Al” Yankovic’s New Children’s Book

A true story. Just like "UHF."

Celebrities writing books for children has already become a worn-out trend among our cultural elites, like rehab, or adopting kids from Africa.  However, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s just-released first book, When I Grow Up, succeeds despite any such baggage. 

Yankovic takes his signature zany humor–heavy on food jokes, non sequitur, and pop culture parody–and turns it into a cute story about a boy giving a show-and-tell presentation about what he wants to be when he grows up.  Like many great children’s classics (and Family Circle comics) it meanders from tangent to tangent, taking us on a silly tour of the author’s hyperactive but innovative imagination. 

It seems that any major children’s author who works in verse, as Yankovic does here, is bound to be measured against Dr. Seuss, especially when the story also involves whimsical fantasy.  Yes, they are in the same category: as an accomplished veteran of the music industry, Yankovic brings his decades of experience to create smooth cadences here, something that most other verse authors (and musicians) seem to struggle with. 

Something else that makes Yankovic unique: he reveled in nerdiness long before it was cool to do so, and his attention to technical detail shines here, meshing comfortably with invented craziness and fluid meters.  Continue reading