The Worst Book Ever
The Worst Book Ever
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away….
“Oh, a fairy tale!”
“I like those!”
There was a very beautiful prinsess and a brave prinse.
“…Okay, another story about a prince and a princess?
“I think I’ve read this one a million times.”
“I like it. I’m a romantic.”
This is clearly the worst book ever –spelling mistakes, coffee stains, crumbs, clichés, bad plot devices – you name it, Elsie Gravel’s new book has it. But as my own kids would say, “Worst is first!” The Worst Book Ever delights readers in its dreadfulness. It tells the story of a princess named Barbarotte and a prince named Putrick An evil monster torments Barbarotte, but Putrick defeats the monster and saves the day…. but wait! It was all just a dream. Groan.
On the left hand page is the plot of Barbarotte and Putrick, told in the style of a comic book page. On the opposite page are the commentaries on the fairy tale story by a spider, a pink blob (possibly a booger), and black speck. For instance:
Suddenly, the prinsess was looking at the beautiful landscape. It was really beautiful. There were really beautiful trees, really beautiful flowers, a really beautiful sky, and a really beautiful lawn. So beautiful! It was so beautiful that the prinsess was really moved.
“Hee hee.” (princess)
“Oh boy. The descriptions are really repetitive and quite boring.” (spider)
“Yeah, the author repeats herself a lot. I think she might have a limited vocabulary” (pink blob)
“She’s even losing me now. Is this book almost over?” (black speck)
Similar in style to some of Melanie Watt’s books, Elsie Gravel breaks the fourth-wall and gives readers a glimpse into authorship. Younger and older readers will enjoy the book for different reasons. “The Worst Book Ever?” shouted my eight year old while laughing at the cover and the fact that it was the “Winner of Zero Awards”. He disappeared with the book, and his giggling could be heard throughout the house. He belly laughed at the ludicrous illustrations, especially the picking of noses that occurred for numerous pages. The book then disappeared again as my spouse, who teaches grade 7/8, borrowed it to teach writing to his class. There are numerous possibilities for using the book with older students to teach writing concepts (of what not to do!) such as illustrations, plot devices, vocabulary, dialogue, sexism, advertisements, diversity in characters, and clichés.
If you don’t mind potty humour and revel in the ridiculous, The Worst Book Ever could be your best buy book for laughs and teaching writing for ages eight and up.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario.