Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Written and illustrated by: Jon Agee
Published by: Hyperion in NY in 2005
ISBN: 0-7868-5184-8
Genre(s): Picture Book
Reading Level: Grade 2
Activity Level: Grades 2 & 4
Award: The California Book Award

Summary: This book is about a man with a lot of sarcasm who sees the world in a very pessimistic manner. For example, he wins a trip to Bermuda, but dreads the sunburn, he is not rescued when his ship sinks and believes he will be eaten by sharks and when he makes it to a deserted island is afraid he will be eaten by cannibals, but no one else is there except a parrot who tells him there is nothing to eat or drink except pomegranates and pomegranate juice, to which this man, Eugene, sarcastically replies, “Terrific,” because he greatly dislikes pomegranates. The parrot teaches him how to build a boat so they can be rescued, about which Eugene complains much. Eventually they are rescued by the parrot’s owners who are fishermen and when they leave Eugene safely at the dock in Bermuda, he realizes that instead of going home with the fishermen, the parrot has chosen to remain with him, to which he, unsarcasitally replies is “Terrific!”

Response: I like that this is another one of Jon Agee’s sarcastic works of literature with a double meaning. I think it introduces students to those double-meanings of things in our world that they should know about.

I do always enjoy Mr. Agee’s comedic illustrations be them single- or double-page spreads in muted tones. He always places just enough detail into his illustrations t make them interesting, but to not overpower the story and he always has huge signs on his storefronts that dictate where his characters are (in this case, Bermuda.)

Teaching Connections: A teacher could use this book to introduce her second grade students to sarcasm. They will be exposed to it in their lives and this is a way to let them know about it in a way that will not offend anyone. The subsequent discussion about this book will allow students to talk about the moral of this story, which is that things might look bleak sometimes, but one’s luck will change and it is just better to be a positive person because Eugene would have had an even better time on his trip if he would have been. Although it turned out well in the end, he could have had more fun with the parrot and his time with the fisherman if he would have taken what life through at him with a grain of salt.

A fourth grade teacher could read this book to her class and then have them write a story about why Eugene might have had such a pessimistic view on life and/or about how the remainder of his trip went and what happened to the parrot and him. They could also write another sarcastic story with a one-word title.

What Students Learn: From this book and the discussion and activities children learn about sarcasm, which can be important because they need to know what to be offended by and what no to be offended by and often young children are not aware of the difference. They also gain thinking and creative writing skills in these activities.

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