Comedian Michael Ian Black has a confession: The title of his forthcoming book, “A Child’s First Book of Trump,” is “sort of deliberately misleading.” Yes, you can read this satire with your kids, but it’s not really meant for them. And that’s not just because there’s a mild obscenity on Page 6. Despite the simple rhymes and whimsical illustrations, the humor here is more John Oliver than Dr. Seuss.
That said, the book “does have a Seussical bent to it,” says Black, who has written several books legitimately for children and starred in some shows you might not want them to see (“Inside Amy Schumer”; the movie “Wet Hot American Summer” ).
The book’s main character, American Trump, is vaguely Lorax-like with his orange Humpty Dumpty-size head — way out of proportion to his hands — topped by a brilliant whoosh of yellow hair. The rhyming text is also a kind of wicked homage to Seuss:
I have all the best words and all the best things!
My water is bottled from all the best springs!
My wine is the best, and so is my brain.
You wanna know why? Too bad! I’ll explain.
The book, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, is Black’s attempt to riff on another children’s book — about Trump’s Democratic rival. About two months ago, Black was in a bookstore when he saw an earnest, inspirational children’s book about Hillary Clinton. (There are several recent titles that fit this description.)
“I was laughing, thinking there couldn’t be a book like that about Donald Trump,” Black says. “There’s nothing particularly inspirational about him. His father was a millionaire; he’s a millionaire. It started with that idea and then morphed into more of a parody.”
Black wrote the book quickly — his first draft in a few hours, his second (and final) in a weekend, he says — and wanted to make sure it was out before the election. The book will be published July 5.
The running joke here is that Trump is a thing, “a beasty” you might encounter in the wild: “How would you approach it, depending on its behavior and how it looks?” Black asks. According to his book, with trepidation. But “should you stumble upon one in the wood,” what should you do? “Don’t respond to its brags, its taunts, or its jeers; / Ignoring a Trump is a Trump’s biggest fear.”
If that sounds like a lesson from a kids’ book, don’t be fooled. Black says that, unlike a real children’s book, there is no message here. Rather, he says, jokingly, it reflects its subject: Both are “silly and dumb.”
Nora Krug is an editor at Book World.
By Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Simon & Schuster. 32 pp. $15.99