Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another Dirt Sandwich by Ray Friesen

Last week I talked about “Amelia Rules” by Jimmy Gownley. Amelia was aimed at grades 3-6, and had a great blend of humor and melodrama. Since I was having a good week, I decided to continue reading humorous books for kids and dug out my copy of “Another Dirt Sandwich” by Ray Friesen.

Where Amelia broke the humor with short bursts of drama, “Dirt Sandwich” breaks the humor with more humor. The story revolves around Tbyrd, a con man ostrich, and his companion a penguin, or more commonly known as the straight man. The action starts with Tbyrd trying to find some food because he’s hungry.

He starts in the local diner. But, the waitress knows Tbyrd, and also knows that he doesn’t have any money. After a witty exchange and Tbyrd writing a note from the President authorizing him to get free lunch, he is thrown out of diner. Next Tbyrd attempts to beg for food.

Tybrd asks the first man he sees, “‘Scuse me Sir! Can you spare a sandwich?”
“Sorry, all I have in my pockets are tacos.”

“Can I have taco then
“Nope, you didn’t ask for a taco.”
Click the image to the left and you can read the entire exchange.

After this mishap, Tbyrd moves from diner, to the local saloon, with the adventures getting sillier and sillier until he meets the Penguin. It turns out the Penguin owns a silver mine but the deed has been stolen by a thieving badger. Further hilarity ensues as Tbyrd and the Penguin try to get the deed back.

The story is fairly straight forward but what makes this book standout is the dialogue. The dialogue reads like Abbott and Costello’s “who’s on first” monologue. Besides silly questions and answers, there are tons of puns, like this one when Tbyrd and the Penguin prepare to capture the bad guy:
Tyrd, “We have the element of surprise on our side”
Penguin, “No we don’t”
AN elephant walks into the room, “Well I wasn’t planning on helping but since you asked.”

The story is also supported by some great art. The simplicity of art and characters makes it easy to overlook the complex draftsman that Friesen is. I’m not sure the panel layout is the same on any two pages. It’s a treat to read every page because every page is different. I included two pages for you to see but they don't do Friesen's art justice.

If you’re looking for a book to share with your kids, or a book chock full of bad puns, jokes and a million other things to make you laugh out loud, then this is the book for you.

A 7 page preview of Dirt Sandwich here
Visit the official site, and see all of Ray’s strips here
Visit Ray’s blog here

And a mighty big thanks to Ray for providing these exclusive previews!

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