Children's book review by P.J. Rooks
Please pardon the star of Tedd Arnold's hilarious Parts series while he has a nervous breakdown. He is falling apart, coming to pieces… or so he believes… quite literally.
It all started innocently enough--with a couple of lost hairs in a comb. But then he wonders if he might be going bald. Possibly predisposed to paranoia, our young anti-hero later concludes, upon finding fuzz in his belly button, that his stuffing is coming out. The skin on his feet is peeling, he'll surely be nothing more than a skeletal nub in just a few days. There are things falling out of his nose that must be his brain and, oh my goodness, is that a loose tooth?
By the time his parents find him, with their Parenting for Beginners guidebook in hand and bewildered expressions on their faces, our fearful friend has bundled himself from head to toe with masking tape just to keep all his parts in place.
"What?" he says.
"You forgot? To tell me teeth fall out?
And when they do, some brand-new teeth
Will soon begin to sprout?
My hair, my skin, and everything--
There's nothing I should fear?
So all of me is normal. Whew!
That's really good to hear."
Oh, he is so relieved--but not for long…
More Parts Dial Books for Young Readers, 2001
Charmingly dedicated "To Mom and Dad - There are still some things I'd like explained," in part two (pardon the pun), Tedd Arnold quickly brings us back up to speed on the status of our jelly-legged pal and we find that things have gone from bad to worse.
"People say all kinds of things
that I don't understand.
Like when my dad asked me if I
would please give him a hand.
I didn't know my hands come off,
And I don't want them to!
So I'll make sure that they stay on
With gloves and lots of glue."
Yuck! With a pillow strapped to his chest to keep his heart from breaking, his head taped to protect against jokes that might lead to cracking up and splints on his arms and legs to keep himself from stretching, young Sir Scaredy is appalled when his grandma tells him to hold his tongue. Mobility (and now speech, too) is becoming a serious issue, but here are Mom and Dad again, better late than never, with their reassuring explanations.
"And though Dad laughed, I know he didn't
Mean to be unkind
When he said, 'For a minute, son…
We thought you'd lost your mind!'"
Even More Parts: Idioms from Head to Toe
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2004
Tedd Arnold's third installment find our phobic friend making a list of all the crazy expressions he's heard.
In keeping with the rest of the series, the illustrations are slapstick funny. Like the teacher, for example, who demands everyone's attention with the expression, "I want all eyes on me!" Splat, splat--whizzing eyeballs fill the room with the teacher as the bulls-eye. Splat, splat-- as the errant eyeballs pile up on her yellow dress, you'd think she was eye-candy--literally!
A growling stomach with a nasty set of teeth, a cash register drawer full of arms and legs and a running nose with a malicious cat in hot pursuit are just a few of the nutty things that frighten our freaked-out friend as he muddles his way through the tangled idioms of American English.
No doubt he is quite confused. Of course, changing his mind is always an option, but should it be the New Improved Mind with high I.Q. and no wool or the Master Mind, which claims to be "better than you think?"
Better safe than sorry, in the end our trepidatious trooper clanks off to school in a suit of armor made of tin cans as his incorrigible father yells from the car,
"Just remember son, keep your head on straight!"
Fantastic! All three books are fantastic!
And so, Tedd Arnold, if you'll indulge me
A moment to implore--
Our ears are perked, our eyes are peeled
When will we see part four?
Other fun books by Tedd Arnold include Green Wilma (reviewed on this site), No Jumping on the Bed, Catalina Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name (and be sure to read the author's note at the end), and the Fly Guy series.
Webmaster's note: Amazon often offers a "4 for the price of 3" special, so you can purchase, Parts, More Parts and Even More Parts and throw in another book. Click the link just below the price that reads, "Special Offers Available."
Read more of P.J.'s children's book reviews.