Five Family Favorites with Todd Tarpley, Author of My Grandma’s a Ninja!
My sweet little boys somehow grew into teenagers, so we have to take a trip back in time to talk about the five books that are special to my family:
By Dav Pilkey
My oldest son Samuel loved Captain Underpants because of the silly visuals and potty humor. I loved them for the same reasons. If you want to make a little kid laugh, name a character “Professor Poopypants.” This was probably the first book he was hooked on, and we bought every book in the series. Probably not the best bedtime book, because it was the opposite of calming. But it made him laugh, and that’s good enough for me.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Scholastic | 1997 | ISBN-13: 978-0439082822
By Jeff Kinney
My youngest son Ethan could seldom sit still for a book. He was a reluctant reader, and this was the first book that finally inspired him to read. He’d buy each book in the series on the day it came out, then rush home and spend the next hour smiling, giggling, and saying, “Dad, Dad, listen to this!” One time Samuel said, “Ethan, there’s a new movie you’re going to like.” Ethan said, “What is it?” Samuel said, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Ethan went crazy for about ten minutes. That’s a high-impact book.
Ages 7-13 | Publisher: Amulet Books | 2007 | ISBN-13: 978-0810993136
By Dr. Seuss
This is an interactive book that encourages the reader to write an autobiography by filling in the blanks. Samuel and Ethan both had their own copies. Samuel listed his favorite foods as “cereal and pancakes and Pop Tarts.” His favorite book was–you guessed it–Captain Underpants. Ethan’s favorite foods: “fries and bacon and light chocolate milk.” His favorite book? “Nothing.” We were very good parents.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 1969 | ISBN-13: 978-0394800936
Samuel liked Sandra Boynton books when he was a toddler. The last line of this book was “They rock and rock and rock to sleep,” and when I’d read that line I’d rock the book back and forth like a boat–and if I forgot, Samuel would reach out his little hands and do it for me. Ethan never took an interest except when I’d make up silly and inappropriate stories while showing him the pictures.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Little Simon | 1982 | ISBN-13: 978-0671449025
This was our favorite series of bedtime books when the boys were old enough that they could both enjoy the same book together. It was structured enough to hold Samuel’s attention, and weird enough to hold Ethan’s. This accounted for a good two years of bedtime stories.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | Aug. 25, 1999 | ISBN-13: 978-0064407663
About the Author
Todd Tarpley is a former ninja who still enjoys covering himself in mud and leaves. He is the author of several picture books including “Ten Tiny Toes” with Marc Brown. He lives with his relatively normal family in New York City. You can visit him at toddtarpley.com. Danny Chatzikonstantinou was born in 1973. He illustrates children’s books and sometimes writes the words, too. He learned his craft by drawing on napkins at first. Later on, he moved to sketch pads and notebooks. Now he has a full set of sharpened pencils and tons of blank drawing paper that he never uses because he moved back to napkins again. Danny is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Athens, Greece.
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Ethan’s grandma suggests they take a zip line to school, Ethan realizes that his grandma is a little different. In fact, she’s a ninja! Ethan is soon the hit of the school when his grandma drops from the ceiling at show-and-tell, and teaches the kids karate moves and how to do backflips in slow motion. But when his grandma deflates his team’s soccer ball, everyone is upset—including Ethan. Why can’t he just have a regular grandma? But when Ethan tries out his new karate movesduring the championship game . . . he’s happy that his grandma isn’t ordinary.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: NorthSouth | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0735841994
Todd Tarpley, author of My Grandma’s a Ninja, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites.