Sunday, April 18, 2010

Readers' Challenge: Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude

Once Upon A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE by Kevin O'Malley, Carol Heyer and Scott Goto is one of our family's favorite picture books. My youngest daughter brought it home from the library at the age of four. We read it aloud together and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Then my husband read it aloud, doing voices as only he can, and we laughed even harder.

We checked the book out from the library over and over again, until my mom in a wonderful Grandma moment, gave the book as a gift to Trisha for her birthday.

Since then, we've read the book over and over again, even if we are all "older" readers now. We've read it aloud at sleepovers, we've recommended it to friends, and I re-read it for my 15 books for 15 days challenge.

The storyline is simple it seems, as the book flap says, "Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl who had to tell a fairy tale to the class, but they couldn't agree on the story. Will everyone live happily ever after?"

The girl tells a story of Princess Tenderheart and her eight ponies, which are being stolen one by one by a horrible giant. Princess Tenderheart spins gold thread and cries, until the boy interrupts the story and brings in his hero, "this really cool muscle dude rides up to the castle on his motorcycle." The hero does battle with the giant and the Princess has to keep spinning gold thread to pay him. "The End," the boy says triumphantly.

The girl says, "I don't think so . . . I'll tell you what happened, bubba!" Then she tells of how Princess Tenderheart becomes a Princess Warrior and the dude has to make his own gold thread. Of course, then the boy isn't satisfied with the ending, and they, finally, work together to create a happy ending for all, happily arguing their way through the story to the finish.

There are three sets of graphics for this story, one by each of the illustrators, and in the end story they are skillfully woven together, just like the story.

I have to admit one of my favorite pages from this story is where one of the fight scenes take place, and the boy and the girl are adding their comments at the bottom of the picture. It goes something like this:

"The muscle dude has this really big sword. The giant and the dude battled all over the place. The Earth was shaking and there was lightning and thunder and volcanoes were exploding." (text with main picture, told by the boy)
"It was huge." (boy's interjection)
"Volcanoes? Where'd the volcanoes come from?" (girl's interjection)

One could argue that this book pays too much homage to biases about boys and girls, but therein lies the humor, and is a great discussion point for parents. Our family agrees, we've seen those differences between boys and girls . . . but do all girls think one thing and all boys think another? No. Not every girl wants to be a beautiful Princess with 8 ponies that she plays with every day, and not every boy wants to do battle with a giant whose breath smells like "stinky, moldy, wet feet."

If you ever want to have an example in creative, interactive storytelling between two characters, or have a story to use as a jumping off point for "stories in the round" where family members or students take turns adding to a story told for the fun of the whole group, this is a book you'll definitely want to read.

Or, you may just want to read it for the fun of it.

Thanks to one of the authors of this book, I learned recently that this amazing, wonderful, hilarious book is still in print. When I originally wrote this post, I had heard from a friend who tried to find it that a bookseller had said it was out of print - one of those "he said, she said, and then they said," kinds of rumors that I am so glad to find out was a false rumor. This awesome book can be found at bookstores, on-line, and at libraries. There is also a sequel coming out!

Thanks for your update, Carol Heyer!


Carol said...

Hi Tyrean, It was wonderful to read your blog post!!!! I'd like to report that "Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude" is still in print. It's the winner of eight state awards and is available in bookstores and online. I thought you might like to know that Kevin O'Malley, Scott Goto and myself, Carol Heyer have just completed the sequel to Dude titled, "Once Upon a Royal Superbaby." I hope you get a chance to check it out and that you like the new book too. Thanks again.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks! I'm sorry about the mix up about it being out of print - it was something a bookstore owner told one of my friends when she was looking for it . . . one of those kinds of he said, she said, and then they said kinds of rumors.