‘Terrific’ Is a Heck of a Terrific Picture Book by Jon Agee


Like most of Jon Agee’s picture books, “Terrific” will be one of those books that kids want to hear again and again. The story is of a cynical man whose response to everything that happens to him — good and bad — is to say “Terrific.”

He’s a cynical man. When, at the start of the book, he wins an all-expense-paid trip to Bermuda, he says, “Terrific. I’ll probably get a really nasty sunburn.” Well, he ends up marooned on a desert island with only a parrot for company.

“Terrific,” said Eugene. “What good is a parrot?”
“You’d be surprised,” said the parrot.
Eugene was surprised.

Well, it turns out that a parrot can be good for a lot. Thanks to the parrot, they build a boat and manage to escape and get rescued. That’s all well and good, but the ending has a twist that kids love. Adults do, too.

Teachers love “Terrific” because of the bounty of thoughts that the book engenders. There can be a rich discussion about satire and irony. There is the huge character change. What caused it? There is the fact that kids really enjoy the story. This reviewer stated in a review of “Life on Mars” that Agee excels at creating picture books with unusual settings and characters. This book certainly lives up to that statement.

The title sums it all up. It’s “Terrific.”

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Dial Books for Young Readers, the publisher, for review purposes.

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