Perfect Picture Book Friday! Telephone by Mac Barnett

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a cute story about how it is easy to misunderstand each other.

by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by  Jen Corace
40 pages – ages 4+
Published by  Chronicle Books on September 9, 2014

Theme/Topic- How easy it is to mishear something someone said

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis-
Opening –  “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.”

Publisher’s summary: “It’s time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn’t as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama’s message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever get home for dinner? This uproarious interpretation of a favorite children’s game will get everyone giggling and is sure to lead to countless rereads.”


Why I liked this book-

*in a whisper* Psst – this book is great: pass it on.

This book is very cute and well done. It reminds me of a game that we played in school when I was little. We called it “whisper down the lane.” I think it’s also called “pass it on.” It was a fun game and this book captured that. The illustrations are cute and show lots of humor. First of all, check out the below image, an ostrich is a maid. Makes sense, with their black, fluffy feathers, right?


But how in tarnation did she get on that wire? Ostriches can’t fly! I LOVE that funny touch! The story is light-hearted and full of everything someone could want in a picture book! The plot of the book shows that it is easy to mishear/misunderstand someone. It is a very fun and just plain silly read! I recommend this book to young kids and their parents/teachers!

Activities and Resources-

Play a game of “whisper down the lane.” Get your friends to stand in a row, and the kid at the front of the line whispers a phrase (or word) to the next, and that student then whispers the phrase to the next and so on, until the person at the end of the line got the whispered message and he/she says what they thought the word (or phrase) was. Usually it is completely wrong and pretty hysterical!

I think another activity you can do with the book is identify all the different birds in the book and what hobbies they like to do and then you can see why they changed the sentence like they did. The illustrations are great and that activity will get kids looking at them closely.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Categories: Age 1-5, Perfect Picture Book Friday

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48 replies

  1. Sounds super cute! I recall playing that game as a kid. Great review, Erik!

  2. Oh, so, clever! It’s one of those smack-yourself-on-the-forehead I-should-have-thought-of-that moments. But of course Barnett can do it so much better.

  3. Very clever idea for a book — birds on a line playing the telephone game. Remember the game in school as a lesson about how messages get distorted. Great selection Erik.

  4. I love word games, and “pass it on” is one of my favorites. I don’t get to play it that often! What a great idea to use it as a picture book premise. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. FANTABULOUS review. LOVE the game pass it on. We played that in Sunday school and homeschool. This book is adorable. What a wonderful, donuty idea for a story. It will not be at our library. I’ll have to buy it for MY library which has newer books than our library system in this county.


  6. Sounds like great fun! I was reading up on International Games Day and discovered that one of the games has libraries around the world playing a world-wide version of telephone. After passing the message within a library, it is sent to another library, and another, etc., until it circles back 24 hours later. Global Gossip they call it.
    Thanks for including the trailer, Erik. So clever!

  7. Cute. We loved that game too, called it Postman.

  8. Just read this book last week. The bird craziness in the illustrations made me laugh the most. Good review, Erik.

  9. I don’t know how I have missed this. What a crazy good idea for a picture book!

  10. Thanks for the recommendation. I love the theme and also the addition of the ostrich, but then Mac Barnett usually turns out terrific books.

  11. So fun! Mom said the game she played like that was called Telephone, just like the book. Sometimes I play Telephone. Mom says, “Come here.” But it sounds like, “Run around in circles, grab a toy, and bring it on the bed.” So fun!

    Love and licks,

  12. Haven’t played Pass It On in a long time. What a fun idea to make a book based on this game. Enjoyed your review!

  13. Erik, this sounds hilarious! Thanks for highlighting! I’ve got to see how the message gets garbled.

  14. Very clever idea for a pb story. I used to play “pass it on” when I was at school, and we used to play it at birthday parties too. Fun idea! Great review Erik.

  15. I’ve been seeing this book lately and just LOVE the premise 🙂 What a great play on the “telephone” game, right? Mac Barnett’s so funny. Can’t wait to see the new book by him and Jon Klassen. The book trailer is fantastic! lol Nice review, Erik 🙂

  16. I see kids playing this game! It makes them laugh a lot! That Mr Barnett makes me laugh a lot!! I’ve got this book on my want list! Thanks for the fun review!

  17. This book is adorable. We love a good picture book – especially with funny touches. Love the ostrich on the wires!

  18. I LOVE this book and cannot wait to review it. It is illustrated beautifully and as Erik said, it is a fun read. If I wasn’t hung up (get it, hung up) I would have eat you to the wire (get it, wire). What a crazy book. “Nice job, Erik,” as always. Now, by the time 11 other birds pass on this message it will be “Nutty jam, Erin. Mm. yummy.”

  19. I can’t believe you did this book this week, Erik – I ALMOST picked it and switched at the last minute! Great minds think alike 🙂 WE played this game when we were little too, but we called it Telephone, just like the book. I like “whisper down the lane” better! Thanks for sharing this one!

  20. I have this one on hold at the library. It looks like so much fun!

  21. We played this game, too, but we called it “Gossip”. I have been wanting to get my hands on this book and your review makes me want it even more. It sounds clever and funny! Just the kind of book I love 🙂

  22. This must be a timeless game that cuts across all cultural boundaries. And Mac Barnett is love. I have yet to find this book.

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