Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
By Trinka Hakes Noble; Pictures by Steven Kellogg
If you want a picture book artist that is a master at capturing the fantastically and phenomenally rollicking situation, springing from an ordinary one, then The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash is the classic for you. And Steven Kellogg is the artist who delivers the goods time after story time.
From Pinkerton, Behave! to The Mysterious Tadpole, Kellogg can hold a picture book audience in thrall…and trust me, that is no easy task.
With the commencement of the school year, there are the upcoming and fairly predictable class trips. As we own a farm, there are plenty of classes that we see coming to visit farms near us, where pumpkins and corn maizes abound.
But, do they abound with boas, as in boa constrictors?
Probably not. But anything is possible in this Junior Literary Guild selection and Reading Rainbow picture book.
Trinka Hakes Noble has fashioned the perfect farm visit picture book tale where chaos reigns supreme, and one thing invariably leads to hilarious others.
Even before the cover page, Steven Kellogg tweaks us deliberately with a calm picture of the teacher, neatly coifed, before a blackboard, talking to her class before the trip, about corn.
“The Indians called it maize.” Perhaps some parents of a certain age will even remember that ad phrase from the 1970’s one for Mazola corn oil
The teacher has even raised the alarming prospect of a quiz, post trip, to insure their strict attention.
Students are dutifully scribbling in note pads as the teacher drones on. Wait! What is that longish tail curling out of Jimmy’s rather large, brown leather sack. All is not as it seems, to quote the Bard of Avon.
Moms usually ask their young ones, “How was the class trip?,”after the fact.
In The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, her daughter’s response is, at first, a casual:
“Oh…boring…kind of dull…until
the cow started crying.”
Huh? And Steven Kellogg provides mom and readers with a visual of the farm trip’s calm beginnings and its comic disintegration into a romp of epic proportions.
For cows do cry when giant haystacks topple on them, precipitated by distracted farmers launching their tractors into the hay, and that wouldn’t have happened if he weren’t yelling at the pigs to get off the school bus…and well it’s some trip.
But just why are pigs poking their way into the bus? Young readers will see that these porcine pokers were after school lunches, and that was due to the corn and egg throwing fest, precipitated by Jimmy’s pet BOA scaring the hens ….and well, Steven Kellogg lets you in visually on this perfect picture book of pandemonium. Kellogg, here, is king at painting the chaotic.
What you can’t miss are the artist’s reenactments of the frenetic activity in farm land caused by you know what. A boa is in the barnyard.
Young readers will love it as animal mania breaks loose on this oh so carefully planned field trip.
And, parents will get a kick out of the hoots of laughter of their young readers, as even adults try to keep a straight face in a perfect read-aloud of this classic favorite that’s built on one slapstick scene after another.
My favorite is the scene of the teacher and class, hightailing it to the school bus after Mrs. Stanley, the farmer’s wife, urges their quick departure.
But, can you guess what’s left behind twirled around the clothes line, grinning at Mrs. Stanley with a shirt in its mouth. Yup! It’s Jimmy’s boa.
Everyone will have the giggles pre-bedtime, so this is one picture book perhaps better read earlier in the evening.
And, just to be sure… you might just want to give a check to the sleeves of those newly washed clothes that you’ve folded neatly away.
They might still hold traces of Jimmy’s boa’s munch fest.