Dr. Seuss may have a new impersonator, but you’ll be surprised to find out whom.
American singer-songwriter and parodist Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic, wrote “When I Grow Up,” a children’s picture book released Feb. 1, 2011 which describes the imaginative thoughts and ideas of an 8-year-old boy saying what he's going to be one day.
Yankovic’s career path has taken many roundabouts, which appears to be what the book is based on.
A reader can familiarize with the wildly whimsical qualities that he applies, with a certain poetic grace of originality; a complementary change from his music parodies. Filled with all sorts of puns and rhymes on every page, this new medium for Yankovic is able to truly showcase his humorous writing style in a different way.
The first third of the book introduces us to a boy named Billy, giving us a first-hand perspective of a young child's excited and expressive thoughts about what he's going to be one day. The creative illustration of Wes Hargis flows perfectly with the writing of Yankovic and gives the book an imaginative and enjoyable energy.
Not only is this a picture book, but it is also available to view and read in an interactive application on smart phones and tablets. This fun and intriguing option allows for kids of age to take part in the special features presented in this format, such as finger swipes, device tilting and secret finger-tapping functions within each page.
One of the first things Billy desires to be when he grows up is a chef and the application version of the book features a mini-game called Haute Cuisine Hero, where one mixes in particular ingredients to create quirky recipes like "chicken noodle strudel."
The middle of the story takes an interesting turn as some of Billy’s most interesting of career aspirations come into play.
He embraces the chance of being a master rider of snails, a mechanical engineer of epic proportions and to even make a living by milking giraffes. It doesn’t quite stop there; he is also entertained by the thought of being a gorilla masseuse, or perhaps “an artist who sculpts out of chocolate mousse.” The ideas only continue to get crazier, as you could probably imagine.
The application comes with four extra games that are fairly easy to figure out, yet a few can be surprisingly challenging. They are titled, Xtreme Snail Race, Gorilla Masseuse, Pickle Inspector and Tarantula Shaver; that's right, tarantula shaver.
Being able to hear the narration of Yankovic himself makes for a very fun and interesting depiction, for those of us who would rather not listen to ourselves read things. Speaking through his own writings allows fans of his work to really notice where he gets the majority of his creativity seen in his music.
The beauty of this story comes near its conclusion, as Billy’s teacher Mrs. Krupp eventually asks him to make up his mind and choose one of his many different ideas. He points out how his grandpa grew up and worked at many places with a lot of career opportunities, hoping that one day he will have the same chance of doing them all.
Before reading this story one might consider why Yankovic planned on writing a children’s picture book in the first place, but afterwards it all begins to make sense.
The book in itself is reason enough for him to make it, as the story truly captures how he wanted to make a living having as many career options as possible to explore all of his passions.
During the week of Feb. 20, 2011, the book was featured at the fourth position on The New York Times Best Seller list for Children's Picture Books.
Yankovic's story is very fun and engaging, bringing out simplistic questions asked for young children that remain relevant even for college students figuring out what to be "When I Grow Up."