May 26, 2016
Beard in a Box by Bill Cotter
Beard in a Box
by Bill Cotter
Alfred A. Knopf
What is it that makes Dad so cool? The narrator has done a scientific analysis and come up with the answer — Dad’s coolness level correlates to the length of his beard. It follows that to be as cool as Dad the narrator too needs a beard and does his best to fake it. He uses markers, borrowed car hair and chocolate syrup but none of them work. Then he sees an ad on tv for Beard in a Box from SCAM-O. What could be easier.
It takes 6-8 weeks for the kit to arrive and our narrator immediately gets to work. He applies the beard seeds, waters them well and sets about doing the facial exercises. Only then does he see Step #5 (you have to read the book to see what it is) and he realizes he’s been had. The story does have a happy ending but, again, you’ve got to read it to find out what it is.
I love the illustrations in this book. They are cartoony and fun and extremely expressive. The facial exercises cracked me up! My favorite illustration is probably the one I think of as “the beard catalogue,” 16 styles of facial hair from mustache to beard.
But I also loved the message in the book. I picked it up because my husband has a beard. He had a beard before they were hipster cool. He has a beard in spite of the flack that he’s gotten for it. I was excited to see a pro-beard picture book. The best thing is that the book is more than pro-beard. The message is clear — having a beard isn’t what makes Dad cool and the narrator also can be cool, with or without a beard.
The humor is going to appeal to both the child reader and the adults. Children will love the narrators early attempts at a beard and will probably have a few ideas of their own. Adults? SCAM-O and beard seeds? Can you say “chia beard”?
This picture book would make great quiet time reading but it would also be a great Father’s Day gift. Share it with the young reader in your life today.