Picture Books – Twelve Terrible Things

The first page warns readers that if they turn the page, they will be exposed to terrible things. You’ll probably turn the page anyway, but at least the author warned you…The twelve “terrible” things that await the reader are humorous depictions of what a child may deem as disastrous or horrible events: ice cream falls off a cone, a little sister gives a haircut, a goldfish is given the traditional flush “funeral”. The cover is a bit misleading, implying that the terrible things will be supernatural. In fact, the monster under the bed featured on the cover is the only non-realistic terrible event in a child’s life.

The text here is extremely simple, generally only a sentence or two, but the words are used to best effect. The text makes the most sense when paired with the illustrations, which not only support, but also add to the reading experience. For instance the page that says “I’ve got one last surprise for the birthday kid!” does not sound terrible, but paired with an illustration of a terrifying clown and a room full of screaming children, it is easy to see why this scene made the list. The illustrations, done in watercolor, are realistic. I particularly enjoyed the foreshortening in a picture of an older brother sticking his smelly foot into your face.

While not exactly high literature, and completely lacking anything approaching a plot, this book nevertheless has just about everything you could ask for in a picture book: appealing illustrations and a humorous approach that will surely be appreciated by kids everywhere.

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