By Josh Rogers
If you are a parent who has to fight off boredom reading to your young child, the humor in Stephen Colbert’s new children’s book is probably enough to do the trick. If you are just an adult Colbert fan, stick with his TV show. The Colbert Report segments previewing the book featuring author Maurice Sendak, who died Tuesday, and the actress and children’s writer Julie Andrews, were much funnier than I Am A Pole (And So Can You).
Colbert’s first foray into children’s literature follows a pole searching for his or her “true pole role” in the world. The rhyming 30-page book is full of double entendres: “I tried and failed at other things/ That I shouldn’t talk about. Like that summer with the phone poles/ Getting totally strung out.”
The book includes what may be Sendak’s last illustration. The final page has a large space for a child to draw a pole next to smaller ones by Sendak and Colbert.
Sendak, in addition to his appearance on Colbert’s show, is a big part of the marketing. His blurbs, “The sad thing is, I like it,” and “terribly supremely ordinary” are featured on the front and back covers.
Some parents, like me, will be put off by the “stripper pole” page with a bikini-clad dancer.
The drawings by Paul Hildebrand, who is falsely credited with inventing collages and founding Cubism on the book jacket, are engaging to children. Wisely the stripper page is opposite a drawing of the pole in a firehouse with a Dalmatian. Hildebrand could have added to the distraction with a fire truck.
My son, just over two, paid attention to I Am A Pole from beginning to end on the first read although he did not stop and point out objects he recognized as he does with some other books. I was relieved that he didn’t seem to take notice of the stripper. I don’t want to ever have to explain what a “grind” is so it won’t be put in our regular rotation although, Mommy permitting, it’s worth an occasional read.
The jacket promises plenty of sequels, some of which are plausible if book sales justify it. How the Pole Stole Christmas and Pole Learns About Copyright Infringement appear to be the least likely.
Follow Josh Rogers @JoshRogersNYC.
Trackback from your site.