Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-12
Recommended For: Ages 8 and up
Bottom Line: A quirky compilation of McSweeney’s magazine inserts featuring clever, witty takes on such classic kids’ magazine fare as mazes, spot the difference, secret words, jokes, and similar elements.
What happens when a clever publishing group like McSweeney’s invites talent like Mo Willems, Jon Klaasen, Mac Barnett, John Scieszka, and Carson Ellis to contribute to kids’ magazine fare? Hilarity, wit, amusement, and fun for all ages.
Each heavy, one-sided page in this collection features one week’s worth of inspiration for kids (and parents). Depending on the week’s contributors and theme, there might be instructions for learning to send messages with semaphores (flags), a secret word, suggestions for temporary tattoos with ratings of the best ink media (Sharpies, chalk, etc.), or detailed directions for faking a shower or serious illness. The one-sided design works perfectly on pages where finger puppets (ranging from Elephant and Piggie to Napoleon) or other “cut-this-out” directions appear.
Art has a vintage feel, humor is firmly tongue-in-cheek, and silliness abounds. With its retro look, this collection is reminiscent of books like The Dangerous Book for Boys that harken back to a day when literary offerings were more plentiful than film media. While there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers, readers ages 8 and up will appreciate the clever humor a bit more (especially boys!). A terrific fit for the long, hot dog days of summer when indoor activities are needed, this book would make a great activity for a road trip, something to have when the grandchildren come over, or simply a fun alternative to video games!
Cautions: supernatural (one page giving directions for very silly palm reading skills)
Overall Rating: 4
Categories: Activity Books, Middle Grades, Humor
cover image from amazon