Fly Guy series written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, RL 1

Tedd Arnold is the author and illustrator of two of my favorite bedtime books to read out loud, No More Water in the Tub and No More Jumping on the Bed. His plausible but ultimately fanciful stories (I know that I definitely thought there was a chance I could crash through to the downstairs when I jumped on my bed as a kid) colorful illustrations and great character names (Patty Fuzzle who was doing a puzzle) have made these books a staple in my house and at the bookstore when I do story time. Add to these the hilarious (maybe a bit more so for parent than kids) Parts, More Parts and Even More Parts in which an uninformed child thinks that belly button fluff is his stuffing coming out and boogers are his brain leaking out through his nose - really, these books are more funny than gross, I swear - and so on, and you have very respectable contribution to the world of picture books. To top it off, Arnold has a very unique illustration style that gives depth to his sometimes cartoonish characters. I always wondered how he achieved this detail which, for lack of a more eloquent word, can be described as scribbles. A visit to his website provided a step-by-step view of his intensive illustration process and an answer to the scribble question!

In 2005 Tedd Arnold began writing a series for beginning readers that has since become hugely popular. In 2006, Hi! Fly Guy, the first book in the series, was given the Theodore Geisel Award honor award the year that the Amercian Library Association first gave out the award. This award recognizes literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading and is sort of the Caldecott award for beginning reader books. The Fly Guy books are broken into chapters but are shorter and easier to read than than the Frog and Toad or Poppleton books. These are genuinely first grade reading level books that are interesting and funny.

The premise of the Fly Guy books is simple but bottomless when it comes to silly situations. In the first book, a boy named Buzz goes hunting for a pet to enter into the "Best Pet" competition. He inadvertently captures a fly and is about to release him because he is not a good pet when the fly says, "Buzz." Convinced that the fly can say his name and is therefore a very smart pet, Buzz takes him home. His parents try to convince Buzz that a fly is a PEST not a PET, but Fly Guy proves his intelligence once again. The same thing happens at the Pet Show where the judges must admit that Buzz is a pet, not a pest and he is awarded the "Smartest Pet" prize. Visual humor and a tiny bit of the "ick" factor abound in these books. One of my favorite pictures from the first book is when Buzz feeds Fly Guy. He takes a whole hot dog, bun, mustard and all, and shoves it into the jar where he has been keeping Fly Guy, who is ecstatic.

Other Fly Guy adventures include playing hide-and-seek in a garbage can, visiting the lunchroom at Buzz's school, going out for the football team, tagging along on a family road trip and, yes, being swallowed by an old lady - in this case, Buzz's grandma. Some of the books in this series are available in paperback, however, the hardcover Scholastic editions are a pretty reasonable $5.99.

New FLY GUY non-fiction books!!

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