“It’s Only Stanley” by Jon Agee

I subscribe to a handful of book-filled, children’s literature newsletters; many of them include a “books coming out soon” section. It’s Only Stanley was on many of those lists for many weeks. So when I finally had the chance to hold it in my hands and read it for the first time, I was curious if it was going to be as good as the hype suggested it would be.

Yup, it is.

Jon Agee has this absurd, dry humor that manages to stick with his characters and translate to a picture book in such impressive ways. He makes the totally crazy seem totally normal. And even if you don’t deconstruct the book like I did after reading it, you will chuckle at it and your child will likely laugh out loud at it, just like my son Kiefer did. Each time he had this read to him last night. (Which was twice — in a row.) That’s always a sign of a good book.

Here’s the story:

The members of the Wimbleton family sleep, but one at a time a strange sound wakes them up. Without fail, the extraordinary family dog, Stanley, is making the noise. And Stanley is one nocturnal, productive pup. Judging by the father’s shrugs and nonchalant reaction, the family is clearly used to such noisy awakenings.

First, Wilma is awoken by a strange tune…but it’s just Stanley, howling at the moon. Daughter Wendy then hears one loud CLANK…but it’s just Stanley, fixing the oil tank.

This goes on all night long, and each sound wakes another member of the family, who travels into the parents’ room and into their bed, until the bed is funnily overcrowded with more and more sleepy Wimbleton family members.

Finally, he wakes up the youngest member of the family with some serious vibrations and sounds. Turns out that Stanley managed to transform the entire house into a rocket, and now the house–with the whole family still in pajamas–is landing on the moon.

Told in a great little rhyme that makes the book even more fun to read aloud (and also allows Kiefer and other kids to guess what Stanley is up to), this book is spot-on fantastic. It’s such a funny story with non-fussy sketches that pair nicely with bedtime. How can you not have sweet dreams when you chuckle yourself?

Publisher: Random House Kids

URL: www.RandomHouseKids.com

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million!

MSRP: approximately $12.00

Ages: 4-8 years

Readability: 5

Illustrations: 5

Kept My Children’s Interest: 5

Appealed to Advertised Age: 5

I Would Purchase for My Child: Yes

I Would Purchase as a Gift: Yes

Overall Rating: 5

All ratings on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom and wife living in Great Falls, VA. In addition to being a reader to her three small children, Kate is a writer, distance runner, Crossfitter and blogger of raising kids with books at www.katesbookery.blogspot.com.

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