July 29, 2013

Picturebooks For Adults


Let's face it: there are some picturebooks out there that really just aren't for kids. I'm talking about the picturebooks that have profanity, feature grotesquely gory deaths, and have an air of sarcasm to them that almost pokes fun at picturebooks altogether. I think one of the most well-known is probably Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cort├ęs. The book mimics the tone, rhythm, and imagery of a nursery book, but it's doubtful you would want your child to read it. It features some heavy profanity, and the illustrations are jarring and dark despite the fact that they evoke the mainstream appearance of a "go to bed" book. Even the endpapers are black. So if this book isn't for children, who's it for? Parents, of course. As a quote on the back of the book says, this picturebook" is the secret anthem of tired parents everywhere." Here are some interiors:






Lots of crazy words in there...

My favorite picturebook for adults is, by far, All My Friends Are Dead. by Avery Monsen and Jory John. Here is the official book description: 

"If you're a dinosaur, all of your friends are dead. If you're a pirate, all of your friends have scurvy. If you're a tree, all of your friends are end tables. Each page of this laugh-out-loud illustrated humor book showcases the downside of being everything from a clown to a cassette tape to a zombie. Cute and dark all at once, this hilarious children's book for adults teaches valuable lessons about life while exploring each cartoon character's unique grievance and wide-eyed predicament. From the sock whose only friends have gone missing to the houseplant whose friends are being slowly killed by irresponsible plant owners (like you), All My Friends Are Dead presents a delightful primer for laughing at the inevitable."

Nothing about the book disappoints. The illustrations mirror the innocent tone of the book, making the statements of these sad, extinct, obsolete animals and items that much more poignant. You're going to get a lot of interiors here:




There's also a sequel called All My Friends Are Still Dead, but I don't think it compares to the original. It essentially continues in the same style, emphasizing that everyone's friends are still dead. 

K Is for Knifeball, an alphabet book by the same duo, humorously advertises on the back that "the book is not for children of any age. It's full of truly terrible ideas and advice no one should follow." And it's no wonder they warn you:




Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story by Andy Rash is also an adorably awesome picturebook for adults. Unless, of course, you want your children reading about gross (albeit creative) deaths. Set up like a counting book, the book features a couple running away from ten zombies, counting off each one that dies in a gruesome way. Check it out:




Gruesome but awesome.

The last book I want to mention is Stephen Colbert's I Am a Pole (And So Can You!), illustrated by Paul Hildebrand. Although it doesn't feature the gruesome deaths or unseemly language of the other books mentioned above, the sarcastic undertone of the book supports the idea that its intended audience is adults rather than children. The book follows the misadventures of a pole trying to understand what his purpose in life is. What kind of pole is he? A lamp pole? The North Pole? A stripper pole? Okay, maybe this book isn't for children after all...



I really like A Cat's Life by Gemma Correll and T-Rex Trying by Hugh Murphy as well, both of which have the right balance of sarcasm/humor and funny animals in existential positions. 

What other picturebooks are out there just for adults? 

Humorously yours,
Mel