Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Special Trick

A Special Trick
Mercer Mayer ~ The Dial Press, 1970

Those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning know that while my mother was feeding me Tasha Tudor and Kate Greenaway in my youth, all I really needed to make me happy was a good Mercer Mayer. Since I've been collecting for my son, it seems there is a constant stream up untapped backlist titles for us to choose from. I bought this at a library sale a few weeks back and though it does creep my son out a bit, he still asks for it openly and looks with one eye shielded behind his pillow... giggly and giddy with the thrill of seeing something mildly spooky. So, if pigs the size of rabbits and rabbits the size of pigs freak you out, read not on my friend.

So there's this kid see, and he convinces a magician to give him a job sweeping floors and such... but when the magician goes away for the evening, watch out. While cleaning up, the boy comes across a large, crusty, leathery book, and well, everything just goes to hell from there.

Elroy took a closer look. He read to himself: To call a galaplop, say Bing-dong-galaplop-bee-there. Why this is a magician's dictionary, Elroy thought. But what do the words stand for? "I wonder what Bing-dong-galaplop-bee-there means," said Elroy to no one in particular. "And what's a galaplop anyway?"

"I'm a galaplop," thundered a loud voice in Elroy's ears. With a creak and a moan the ground yawned open. Billows of green smoke poured into the air and a very large shape rose out of the hole behind him. Turning around, Elroy saw six eyes peering at him.

What follows is a series of horrifying mishaps and bungled spells that don't get put right until Elroy has read the book in it's entirety. Really, no pun intended, but I would have eaten this up as a kid. The more crazy I go with voices reading this to the boy, the more revved up and wild he becomes. So much fun and mystery in the telling of the story, and it is not all creepy. I mean, Elroy does end up being able to change his bed into a winged pony at will. How awesome is that?

Also by:
Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp
One Monster After Another
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo
Me and My Flying Machine
Beauty and the Beast
Little Monster at Work
One Frog Too Many
How the Trollusk Got His Hat
Bubble Bubble


Denise A said...

Way cool! Got to check it out.

Jill said...

Have you, by chance, read Sam Sunday and the Strange Disappearance of Chester Cats by Robyn Supraner? I just found my old childhood copy and I forgot what a HILARIOUS book it is. It's the perfect book to do "voices" for...and I don't usually do voices. I read it to my son last night and we were both cracking up. If you ever run across a copy I'd love to see you review it here.

I bought a copy of the Golden Book of Natural History thanks to you. It's lovely. :)

Burgin Streetman said...

I have never read it, but I am googling now. Thanks for the tip!

so glad you're digging the golden.

The Vintage Fabric Market said...

what a fabulous blog, such a lovely different idea. i have featured you on my blog today! if you haven't done so already you must look out for "the very hungry caterpillar" by eric carle. a wonderful kids book which i enjoyed as a small child and so now does my son. it's for very wee ones really but the illustrations are very fresh and fun! enjoy!

Claire said...

this looks wonderful! thanks for posting. I'll look for a copy.

Heather said...

Beautiful! I absolutely love Mercer Mayer - particularly 'Frog Goes to Dinner'. Mayer is the master of the wordless picture book. And I LOVE his illustrations in the Little Bear books. Great post!

ShelfTalker said...

A Special Trick was one of my husband's FAVORITE books as a child. He now draws graphic novels for a living, and a couple of them feature very imaginative monsters. I think it's fair to say, therefore, that this book had quite an impact on him! I didn't grow up with this particular Mercer Mayer book myself, but I LOVED (and still love!) Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp, as well as the Little Critter books. His wordless gems about a boy, a dog, and a frog are worth seeking out too.

Anonymous said...

I still own my copy of A Special Trick. It was my favorite book as a child and now I read it to my son. Thank you for showing it the love and respect it deserves!

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