I thought it was about time to point you toward the brilliant writings of other writers, which, obviously, are also known as books.
When looking for new authors, a great place to start is GoodReads.com. Simply search for a book you enjoy, then shift your gaze to the right side of the screen. You’ll see the aptly titled “Readers Also Enjoyed” section. Scroll through these titles for wonderfully comparable recommendations. Do not be like me and ignore this section for many, many months before deciding you have seen that one particular title pop up again and again.
“Hmmm,” you reason to yourself, “maybe I should trust the magical inventory of GoodReads.com and take its advice!”
When said title arrives at the library, you then berate yourself for ignoring the advice of said magical inventory.
And that long-winded story brings us to today’s recommended picture-book author: Ryan T. Higgins.
First, in case you don’t know, there is a whole genre of children’s picture books written (I believe) with generous thought toward the parents. After all, the picture-book crowd isn’t going to catch a lot of jokes, sarcasm, or dry humor. The kids seem to like animals they recognize, animal sounds they recognize, and fun stories to follow, especially if the animal does something silly.
I, however, as the reader and purveyor of this particular genre, enjoy a good pun or witticism, even though I know George won’t get it until he’s at least 15 (and unlikely to still be reading books with pictures, though, I suppose you never know).
And so, the book that continually popped up on my “Readers Also Enjoyed” scroll bar was Ryan T. Higgins’ Mother Bruce. It’s actually Mother
Goose Bruce, but I thought that’d be more complicated to explain.
Bruce the Bear is a grump. He reminds me of a combination of Shrek and Ove from A Man Called Ove. He doesn’t like sun, rain, or cute, fuzzy animals. He only likes eggs.
But Bruce didn’t eat eggs raw like other bears. Instead, he cooked them into fancy recipes that he found on the internet.
And in doing so, he mistakenly adopts the four baby geese that hatched from the eggs he was attempting to turn into hard-boiled goose eggs drizzled with honey-salmon sauce. Therefore…
“Bruce became the victim of mistaken identity,” as Mrs. Goose had migrated, leaving Bruce to become “Mama” to her four goslings. After they mature, Bruce attempts to teach his geese how to migrate, but they won’t leave their mama. Eventually, the five board a bus and head south to a Miami beach.
The story picks up again in Hotel Bruce, which shows a bedraggled Bruce having to migrate every year with his geese.
“He would have preferred to hibernate. Migration (and motherhood) is hard work for a bear.”
This time, when the family returns home, Bruce discovers three mice have turned their home into a hotel. Obviously, shenanigans ensue as Bruce attempts to rid his home of myriad forest creatures (and a busload of elephants, strangely enough).
And the story wraps up with Bruce’s Big Move. In addition to his four geese, Bruce now houses the three mice who started the hotel because they wouldn’t leave. Since they wouldn’t leave (and they made huge messes), Bruce packed his geese into his motorcycle’s sidecar and moved.
Everything was dandy and mouse-free until Bruce’s geese start to miss the mice. Luckily, for all involved, the mice drove their moving van up to the new house soon after.
Oh! In my extensive research for this post, I discovered that Santa Bruce is coming out this September. So, there you go. I’m nothing if not cutting edge!
The mice also have their own side story in Be Quiet!. The mustachioed, bespectacled rodent wants to create a wordless book (my thoughts on wordless books), but his two mousey sidekicks won’t…you guessed it!…be quiet long enough for this to happen. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as those about Bruce, but who doesn’t love a soft-hearted curmudgeon?
And for icing on the cake:
Books that compare favorably with Mr. Higgins’ flair (and those Mama finds amusing):
- The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Jill Sarcone-Roach
- Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor
- Snappsey the Alligator by Julie Falatko
- Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
- Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
- Max the Brave by Ed Vere
And, there you have it! Mr. Higgins, if you happen to read this, thank you for taking the time to be brilliant and creative. I’ve enjoyed sharing your books with my kids, and I look forward to explaining the concept of “rent” to my son someday…hopefully after he moves out of my house.