The Stupids Step Out



Family cheerfully does everything wrong in goofy, fun tale.

What parents need to know

Educational value

It may be an educational exercise for kids to identify what's wrong in the Stupids' home, like the picture of a sheep identified as an elephant.

Positive messages

The Stupids are a close, happy family with very good manners.

Positive role models

The Stupids appear to be a close-knit family, and they kick off a day out by visiting relatives. They're generous with one another and share compliments.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

There's nothing more offensive than the family's name: the Stupids.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this silly, absurd picture book -- the first in a series -- is on the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the past two decades (though it was published in 1974). Parents who are taken aback by the use of "stupid" in the title should steer clear. If the title doesn't bother you, however, you and your kids may enjoy the goofy premise. The story is simple -- and funny -- enough for young kids to follow, but it's better suited for kids 5 and older who can understand that "stupid" isn't a nice word to use.

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What's the story?

Stanley Q. Stupid has an idea -- an unusual event. He announces that the family is stepping out for the day. They prepare by taking a bath, fully dressed in a dry tub, and head out to the grandparents' home. Grandfather doesn't recognize them; Grandmother stays in a closet. They enjoy mashed potato sundaes and walk home on their hands. Happy with the day's adventures, they dress in clown costumes and settle into bed -- with their feet resting on their pillows.

Is it any good?


You can make a fair argument against the book's premise -- that this family is so stupid it's OK to laugh at them -- and if you feel that way, you won't find anything funny about the Stupids. In fact, it's a rather stupid book. But if you can get past the language, rest assured your kids probably get a laugh out of it.

Harry Allard (author of the Miss Nelson series) and his frequent partner James Marshall (George and Martha) offer lots of sight gags: mislabeled pictures in the home include a sheep identified as an elephant; Mr. Stupid proudly wears knitted stockings on his ears, while his wife wears the cat as a hat; and the headdress-wearing dog drives the car. It's ridiculous and simple — making it good fun for young readers. The Stupids Step Out is the first in the series of four books.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the use of the word "stupid." Parents should remind their children that "stupid" is an impolite word and can be hurtful. What other words could you use to describe this family? 

  • Parents can point out some of the Stupids' admirable qualities -- for example, they are cheerful, considerate, impeccably well behaved, very happy with the way they live.

  • Parents can help beginning readers find all the gags in the pictures, including funny signs in the background.

Book details

Author:Harry Allard
Illustrator:James Marshall
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:April 17, 1974
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:5 - 8
Read alone:6 - 8

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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