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The Children's Bookshelf: ZILOT & Other Important Rhymes - May 19, 2024

ZILOT and Other Important Rhymes written by Bob Odenkirk and illustrated by Erin Odenkirk is a cute, clever, creative book of over 70 rhymes for the ears and eyes of children six years of age and up.

Readers will meet Willy Whimble who lives in a tuna fish can, Frida Kahlo who paints the world in new ways, a boy who believes in stretching out and taking time for lollygagging, and Librarian Nancie who is also a sailor and reads in her boat’s comfy nook “perfectly sized for her and her books.”

The rhyme “My Car” is delightfully presented in word and picture.

My car runs on turkey baloney,

Carrot and broccoli stew.

When I drive it to Arizoney,

I can hear the engine chew.

Erin Odenkirk’s illustration of the car is full of wonderful details such as swinging metal arms clutching morning toast and coffee, a smoking pot at the front of the car and a convenient belching system near the rear tires. Erin Odenkirk’s illustrations throughout the book are alive with unusual sounds and movements.

ZILOT and Other Important Rhymes written by Bob Odenkirk, with contributions from the family and illustrated by daughter Erin Odenkirk, is full of fun and imagination for readers six years of age and up including moms and dads who need a little humor to start the day. (Little, Brown and Company)2023.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and activity questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for ZILOT

Read all about the author’s meaning of the word Zilot on the inside cover of the book and in the first rhyme. Look at the pictures of this Zilot. Do you have a place where you like to quietly read, write a poem, draw a picture, or design something new? Think about it. Then draw a picture of your “private place” and be sure to give it a made-up and special name as the author of this book did.

There are more than 70 rhymes in this book. Take your time and look back through them. Which rhyme is your favorite? Why? Which illustration is your favorite? Why? If you had to select your top ten rhymes from this book what would the list look like?

There is a lot of movement in the poem “A Fly’s Purpose.” Study the double page illustration. First, be a fly and move all about the room as shown in the illustration of this rhyme. Then, be a person trying to catch the flies with a rolled paper and next a person with a frying pan. Have fun moving with a purpose!


Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.