I'm childish. I know. I get this about myself. I laugh at slapstick. I like chocolate chip cookies. And it's often the simplest of picture books that delight me the most.
Case in point: BRING ME A ROCK! by Daniel Miyares (Simon & Schuster, 2016). It's the story of a power-hungry grasshopper who—wait, can we stop right there? A power-hungry grasshopper? Yes. A megalomaniacal, narcissistic, demanding, six-legged, lime-green grasshopper. Who wears a crown. That alone has me laughing. He says imperious things like, "Bring me a rock!" and "I will have a majestic pedestal fit for a king." And right there, I'm thinking, Yeah, me, too! I want to be a grasshopper king with a majestic pedestal! (At the end of a long day dealing with kids and editors and manuscripts that won't behave, I am so right there.)
And then his minions. Yes, he has minions. He's a king among insects! So his minions are—as far as I can tell, and I'm no entomologist—a praying mantis, an ant, a centipede, a rhinoceros beetle, and a few other undistinguishable six-legged creatures—including one very small, nondescript bug who eventually saves the day.
The artwork is just wonderful. Lush backgrounds and expressive faces and fabulous perspective changes that send you soaring to the top of the tower and then plunging down to the lowliest of the bugs. The colors are vibrant and inviting. The minions look so sad and downtrodden. I think to myself, Yeah, I've been there, sister. You give and you give, and still they want another rock! We need a vacation!
All this to say, there is much to love in this heartfelt but also hilarious story of a demanding personality who learns to value others. And of the little one who ends up being the big hero.
The story is told entirely in dialogue—no narration, whatsoever—which is how my own picture book, PANDA PANTS, is also told. It's a challenging story construct, and BRING ME A ROCK! makes it work. Both books also share a line of dialogue: "I have an idea!" In Miyares' story, that line is spoken by the little bug, and in PANDA PANTS, it's spoken by Little Panda. It's a good line.
Love this story. I've read it three times, and I laugh every time. So childish!