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The Stupids Step Out
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
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