That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems is a fun picture book with a surprising twist. I love Mo Willems and almost all of his books (though I don't love his latest Pigeon Needs a Bath book). They are simple, have beautiful drawings and unique story lines, and they are all around great picture books. I consider Willems to be one of the best writers, and I think it's doubly cool that he illustrates everything.
I gave That is Not a Good idea! 4.5 out of 5 stars. I loved the pictures and simplicity, but the Silent Movie layout (where you only here the baby chicks talking) could be a bit confusing at first, especially for the younger students. I absolutely loved the surprise ending. The twist at the end was not what I was expecting at first, but it was fun. There were a few things that took away from a perfect 5 star book, but all in all this is a great book.
With that said, I would most definitely rethink the ages for this book. The publisher has this book for 4- 8 years. However, I think 4 is a bit young, especially b/c of the twist at the end. I would say a 6 year old at the youngest could enjoy this book, but a child up to 12 could really enjoy it including the format as well as story line.
Lesson plan/ideas for this book:
- Younger grades (1-2) you could do a lesson on predicting. You could have the students make predictions what is going to happen next from the pictures/text previously. Really using the pictures since the pictures in this book are exaggerated for the "silent movie" type of book. I would do a brief predicting of almost every page or every other page with my class or reading group..
- Older grades (3-6) could do a lesson on inference. With the twist at the end the students will be surprised at what they inferred from the clues they were given.
- All grades could really discuss what a silent movie is, reread the book to again see the silent movie format and how Willems makes it work (big and obvious facial features). The students could then attempt a writing and art assignment where they use the pictures/illustrations and the words (from an audience member) to really tell the story.
"If anyone is going to pull off a picture book built on the conventions of old-time silent movies—exaggerated facial expressions, telling body language, and, of course, blacked-out dialogue pages cut into the story—it would be Willems. The setup is classic dastardly villain and innocent naïf, as a three-piece-suited, top-hatted, grinning fox catches the eye of a sweet, old babushka-wearing duck. Dinner! He asks if she’d like to go for a stroll in the deep, dark forest to his kitchen, where he’s making a pot of soup that’s missing only one last ingredient. At each step of the way, an increasingly frantic litter of chicks warns That is really, really, really, really not a good idea! By the time the story reaches its peak, you can practically hear the Wurlitzer throbbing, and kids will be squirming with tense glee, primed for a classic Willems gotcha that turns the whole thing on its head for the poor, unsuspecting fox. A quick, crowd-pleasing lark that should be a hit at group storytime. High-Demand Backstory:"
That is Not a Good Idea by Mo WIllems is not a book for a young sensitive child. However, it'll keep the older children more involved and alert to the story and it's plot.
Have you read That is Not a Good Idea? What did you think?
This book reminded me a bit of Mo Willems' Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. It's a classic fairy tale, but there are twists and differences make for a great purchase/read.
Happy fun and surprising ending