Crankee Doodle

Mark your calendars for the June 4th release of a picture book that’s as funny as any I’ve ever read. I gave my husband a dramatic reading of “Crankee Doodle,” last evening during the news, and we were both guffawing. Who says picture books are just for kids?

Author Tom Angleberger, of “Origami Yoda” book fame, had a revolutionary idea, turning the song “Yankee Doddle” into a crazy tale. Cartoon illustrations by his wife, Cece Bell, add to the hilarity as Crankee argues with his pony about the necessity of going to town, buying a hat, a feather, and other such nonsense.

The action begins with inaction on the first spread with Crankee, in full revolutionary gear, sprawled out in a meadow underneath a tree. “I’m bored,” he says, a statement his codependent pony immediately picks up on. Poor four-legger ventures onto thin ice when he suggests a trip to town, his long face all grins, expectation and teeth.

“Town? No way. I hate going to town,” says Crankee—so begin pages of back and forth conversation bubbles between the characters. The pony suggests this, then that, but Crankee nixes every notion the palomino proposes. Tried and true, the placid pony doesn’t throw in the towel; he plods on with ideas, while Crankee goes from testy to irate, finally pushing his trusty comrade too far.

When the pony says he’d please like to go to town, and he can give his master a ride, Crankee quips, “No way! You smell terrible.” That is the straw that breaks the pony’s back. Crankee heads do not prevail. The buddies strike a compromise that puts the pony in the driver’s seat for a change.

Scroll past “The End,” and you’ll see an afterword by the smart little steed. He offers his two cents about the original song “Yankee Doodle,” and includes the words as well, while Crankee stands off to the side, exasperated, his fingers in his ears.

A five-musket salute to “Crankee Doodle,” a book sure to provide belly laughs for readers of all ages.