Tuesday, April 17, 2012

E-mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer (ages 6 - 10)

All month we're reading funny books at Emerson. The kids are loving it! Nothing motivates kids more than a joke, especially when they are "in the know". Today, we had such fun reading classic Amelia Bedelia and laughing at the word play. I can't wait to share a new favorite: E-mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer. The word play and puns are hilarious, and will have kids coming back to this again and again.
by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer
CA: Chronicle Books, 2011
ages 6 - 10
available at your local library and on Amazon
ALA Notable Children's Book 2012
Eeeeks! The letter E is falling down the stairs! All the letters of the alphabet live in one big house, and so they all came running to see if E was hurt. Letters R and U asked, "E! Are you OK?" and the letters O and K said, "No, we are." The letter X helpfully marked the spot where E tripped.

Do you see where this is headed? Those are the puns from just one page! With E in the hospital, A took charge (always first, you see):
"Someone is going to have to take the place of E while she gets better. O, you're the obvious option because you're so well-rounded." (get it, well-rounded?! hee, hee, hee)
Kids will love seeing the havoc caused by this plan. There is a "Spocial Bullotin" on television, with Exclamation Mark giving the announcement: "Do! Not! Uso! E! until! Sho! Rocovors!" They'll laugh at the store signs: "Ico croam" "Jan's Shoo Shop" and "Targot".

Clearly, this book is meant for proficient readers who can figure out all the word puns. 2nd and 3rd graders have loved reading it again and again, looking for all the puns and jokes hidden within the busy pages. This is not your typical alphabet book for little kids, but rather one layered with all sorts of jokes that older kids will enjoy.

Watch this very funny book trailer to get a sense of Lichtenheld's comic art style, timing and sense of humor:

The story behind E-mergency! is fascinating. Amy Krouse Rosenthal sent Lichtenheld Alphabet House, a video by a Los Angeles high school student, Ezra Fields-Meyer. Fields-Meyer is an accomplished animator, and his video started Lichtenheld thinking about this story. Read more about the development of this story over at ReaderKidZ.

You can see more of the interior artwork over at Tom Lichtenheld's website. My students love, love, love his books. If you want more picture books that will make you laugh, check out two other favorites he illustrated: Shark vs. Train and Duck! Rabbit! I can't wait to see his most recent Zero the Hero and his upcoming Wumbers.

For other reviews, check out A Year of Reading, Bookends, ProseAndKahn, and Waking Brain Cells.

Teachers, you'll want to head over to Chronicle Books' site to see their great Teacher's Guide, along with an extensive activity kit and Reader's Theater script.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Chronicle Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. That looks like a super cute book - especially for kids who have a good grasp on letters!