Author: Michael Ian Black
Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Age Range: 3-5
Naked! by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi is, as you might expect, a celebration of the joys (for preschoolers, anyway) of running around naked. A little boy escapes his weary mother after his bath and runs joyfully all around the house. He enjoys being naked so much that he imagines going to school or the playground naked. He eventually adds a cape to his (lack of) ensemble, and this seems for a time to be the perfect compromise. However, by bedtime, the cold drives him into giving some clothing a try (though the cape stays on, too). And warm and cozy, he falls asleep, slung over mom's shoulder.
[Parenting note: this mom deserved what she got. What was she thinking, letting her kid eat three large chocolate chip cookies between bath time and bedtime? Of course he was running around the house like a crazy person.]
Seriously, though, Naked! simply radiates joie de vivre. Black's minimal text perfectly channels the stream of consciousness thought process of a three year old. Like this:
"Running around naked!
Sliding down the stairs naked!
Eating a cookie totally and completely naked!"
Like the boy, the text bounces around all over the place, with the words "sliding down the stairs" shown stair-stepping down the page, and the words "totally and completely" shown on separate lines and angled in alternating directions.
Ohi's digitally created illustrations match the the tone of the book perfectly. The boy is shown cartoon-like, with a huge grin and a yarn-like mop of hair. She does a fine job of making it clear that the boy is naked, while using positioning and props to avoid revealing anything that would get the censors into a snit. The funniest page, I think, is when he does "the Hokey Pokey naked", as shown from above (spinning mop of hair with hands or feet sticking out).
Naked! is book that will delight preschoolers of a certain age, while evoking knowing smiles from experienced parents. There's no special message or story, just a refreshingly straightforward, infectious celebration of being oneself. A must-purchase for libraries serving preschool populations.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source of Book: Library copy, checked out for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own.
© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).