Top 100 Picture Books #81: Fortunately by Remy Charlip
When I worked in the Children’s Center at 42nd Street I had a bad habit of relying on the same storytime picture book readaloud staples over and over and over again. And Fortunately, for good or for ill, was one of those staples. I loved it for so many reasons. For one thing, when you show kids the cover they are not enthused. It doesn’t look interesting to them. But about the time you get to the motor in the airplane exploding, they’re hooked. And when the pitchfork and the tigers come along you have them squarely in the palm of your hand. There have been lots of imitators since its creation (Fortunately, Unfortunately by Michael Foreman, Boing! by Sean Taylor, That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington D.C. by Margery Cuyler, etc.) but none can touch it.
The description from the publisher reads: “Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately, the motor exploded. Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute. What else could go wrong as Ned tries to get to the party? Readers will cheer as Ned’s luck turns from good to bad to good again, while clever illustrations tell the story of his wacky adventure and narrow escapes.”
I was in Bologna in 2011 and while there I saw that the book was being heavily promoted by . . . oh, let’s say the Italians. A little late since the book originally came out in 1964, but better late than never.
By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Charlip but his name seems to ring a bell then it’s may be because Brian Selznick used him as the model for George Melies in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He talks about Remy as an inspiration here.
I hesitate to post this due to the fact that my wet hair looks like nothing so much as an up-and-coming rat’s nest, but in any case here is a video of me reading this book aloud. You may see why I like it so.
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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