A love of drawing and an understanding librarian help a struggling student find his voice in this quirky and creative ode to artistic expression, featuring a book within a book, from the brilliant minds that brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Numberlys.
Billy loves to draw. He draws on books and on his homework and even on his math tests—he might not get the answer right, but doesn’t it look swell sitting in a boat at sea? His teacher doesn’t think so, and neither does the principal. But the librarian has an idea to help Billy apply his illustrations to his learning: a book-making contest!
So Billy gets to work, reading everything he can about meteors, mythology, space travel, and…mucus? Yep, Billy’s book is about the world’s smartest booger, who stays tucked away until right when he’s needed—say, to solve multiplication problems, or answer questions from the President. Billy’s sure his story is a winner. But being a winner doesn’t mean you always win.
Full of nostalgic references to a time when TV was black-and-white and Sunday newspapers had things called the funnies, this wildly fun story-within-a-story is based loosely on the childhood of children’s book legend William Joyce, and includes a sewn-in mini-book that tells the tale of the world’s smartest booger.
Joyce's recreation of an episode from his own childhood bursts with energy and warmth. Eccentric fourth-grader Billy is obsessed with the Sunday funnies, which Joyce (the Guardians of Childhood series) spoofs lovingly, and he's thrilled about a children's book writing contest at school ("Billy's brain was about to explode!"). His entry, Billy's Booger, is included as an insert, and it's a dead-on rendition of grade-school storytelling, complete with faux manila paper. In it, the small green product of a sneeze brings Billy such amazing math superpowers that the president appeals to him for aid: "Can you help me? I've got to know how many candy bars we need to give to all the kids of the US of A?" Billy's shaky grammar and spelling keep him out of the winner's circle, and he's disconsolate until the librarian tells him that his book has been checked out more than any of the winners. Discovering that his wild imaginings please his peers sets Billy on the road to a career in books, and there isn't a reader who won't share his elation. Ages 4 8.