SIMPLY RIDICULOUS – by Virginia Davis; illustrated by Russ Willms; published (1995) by Kids Can Press
When I first read this book, way back in 1995, I was utterly wowed by it. Reading it again yesterday, I wasn’t so utterly wowed. I wasn’t even slightly wowed. I was surprised by the ridiculousness of its plot and its silly, simply ridiculous characters. Yes, I know that’s the whole idea, but I think it was just a tad too ridiculous.
So why write about it? Because (she said, sheepishly) I still like it! I like its illustrations and I like the writing and, even though every twist and turn of the story is rather predictable, it did keep me reading.
It’s a story about Willy and his wife who are about to have a child. Willy is a rather silly man, as the story goes, and here’s how the story goes:
In a village, far, far away, there lived a young man who was sometimes a little silly. One day his wife came to him and said, “Willy, we’re going to have a child.”
“Oh, wife,” Willy cried happily, “what kind of a child will we have?”
“Well, husband, I don’t know,” she replied.
“You don’t know?” grumbled Willy. He thought for a time and said, “But I want to know now. I will go to see the Wise Old Man. He will tell me.”
The wise old man takes a jar of beans and throws the beans to the ground. Hmmm… ohhh…..ahhh..: “You will have either a girl or a boy,” he predicts. Saw it coming, didn’t you? Ridiculous! Anyway, Willy’s elated and, sure enough, the baby is born and it’s a boy. A boy without a name because they can’t choose a name that’s good enough.
‘I must go again to see the Wise Old Man. He will tell us the name of our child,” says Willy.
The old man whispers the name into Willy’s palm and he closes it. Silly Willy runs happy but – woe is he! – he trips on a stubble of corn, the hand comes open and the special name is gone! He gathers the strongest (why the strongest? is he just being ridiculous?) men in the village to help the search. The strongest men in the village can’t find it but an old woman comes wobbling along.
“Oh, old woman, this has been the worst day of my life,” cries Willy.
Will the old woman find the forgotten name? She will! And you can bet it’s simply ridiculous!
You will find this old book still sold on Amazon.com
And you can see Russ Willms’ really cool illustrations portfolio: here.