Storytime Suggestions: Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Herein lies the third installment of my Storytime Suggestions series. We covered Toddlers. We covered Preschoolers. Now a little something for the older tykes. I’m talking the K-2 crowd. Maybe my favorite age to read books to, truth be told. These are the kids I feel more comfortable experimenting on with new picture books.
It was difficult to choose where to begin. There are so many titles out there that I adore! But my surefire winner, hands down, has to be Fortunately by Remy Charlip. As you can see, it has a truly magnificent arc.
Author: Remy Charlip
In Print?: Yes! In paperback, but we’ll take what we can get.
Best For: The K-2 crowd
Random Fact: Well, the book was originally published in 1964. And according to a commenter on Amazon (clearly I go to only the most reputable sources for my information), in 1969 the title was changed to What Good Luck! What Bad Luck! The reasoning? Who knows. In any case, it was changed back, though you can still find paperback editions of What Good Luck… floating around for sale online. If you’re a dedicated Charlip collector, of course.
Folks may know Charlip for his impressive picture books, popular for decades. Most recently he was immortalized in Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Award winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. A fan of Charlip’s for years, Selznick realized that the man was the spitting image of George Melies, old timey filmmaker. See?
Later, when Selznick gave his acceptance speech, Charlip was present and received a standing ovation.
It’s all in the intonation. The four syllables of the word “for-tu-nate-ly” resonate so well sometimes. It helps to look really regretful every time things do not work out for little Ned. His pain is your pain. His joys, your joys. Of course, around the time the motor explodes, they’ll be riveted, no matter how you read it. The book is just that good.
I’ll admit to you that I enjoy the first half of the this book more than the second half. The high point, for me anyway, is when he missed the pitchfork. The story does well with the sharks and the tigers, but by the time Ned (how awesome is it that the main character’s name is Ned, by the way?) starts digging I feel like it’s not quite as strong. That said, to the book’s credit I’ve never had a kid question the logic behind the fact that Ned somehow manages to dig himself from an island into a ballroom in Florida.
What kids really love about this book is that there are several moments there where it seems pretty certain that we’re going to turn the page onto the eviscerated and very bloody corpse of poor little Ned. The pitchfork, for one, looks like a pretty done deal. Children can be bloodthirsty little souls, but you know they’re secretly pleased each and every time Ned gets out of a near death experience. And that is the charm of the book, isn’t it? Ned is escaping actual honest-to-god DEATH with every page turn. Not minor inconveniences. The end of his life as he knows it!!! Riveting stuff.
Preschool Storytime Suggestions made in the comments of the last post included:
Fortunately by Remy Charlip – Suggested by Eric
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas – Suggested by Mary (Mary, I’ve adopted your method of singing “Dun Dun Dun” every time I read it . . . it’s a hit).
Chicken Butt by Erica Perl – Suggested by Erica
Beware of Frog by William Bee – Suggested by Jim
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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