Special Delivery – Silly & Surprising!

Last week as I was perusing the “New Releases” section in my library, an eye-catching book cover grabbed my attention. I was immediately drawn to the large illustration of a colorful stamp on the front, and because the stamp looked realistic from afar, I assumed it was nonfiction. I immediately sat down and read Special Delivery, written by Philip Stead and illustrated Matthew Cordell. It wasn’t nonfiction, but it was a great find. The text was hilarious and the illustrations had me smiling from ear to ear. 

sd2So while I usually comment about nonfiction picture books in my posts, I’m taking a break this week to chat a bit about Special Delivery. As someone who doesn’t write humor, I thought it might be interesting to analyze what exactly I liked so much about the book.

One unique aspect of this title that I haven’t seen in other picture books was that it had three pages of text (albeit, they only contained four words) before the CIP and title pages. Those first three pages felt like a “mini foreword,” and I liked how this arrangement put me into the story right away. Then the title spread was like a short pause, before resuming the story. (I also love discovering something completely new in picture books!)

After the title spread, the author did an excellent job of hooking me with the main character’s outrageous dilemma–how would Sadie transport an elephant to her great aunt who “lives almost completely alone and could really use the company.”

As the story continued, the endearing silliness of the main character, Sadie, drew me in, and a string of surprises (and unique characters she meets along the way) kept me laughing. To top it all off, the story had a very satisfying ending when Sadie finally figured out a way to deliver the elephant, and readers discovered the interesting truth about her aunt who “lives almost completely alone and could really use the company.”

I guess the over-the-top silliness and unexpected surprises made this story shine for me. Isn’t it great there are many different kinds of picture books and no shortage clever, innovative authors and illustrators who create them? When it comes to picture books, there’s something for everyone!

PS The back cover design is terrific with its heartwarming illustration which incorporates the barcode (Tammi Sauer discussed barcode art in her earlier post.)

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Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the author of more than 100 books. A mechanical engineer by degree, she enjoys writing about science topics and fascinating historical figures. Recent books include: SWISH! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, Astronaut Annie, Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, The Inventor’s Secret, and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Coming soon -- MARS IS, JUNE ALMEIDA VIRUS DETECTIVE! THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS, THE UNIVERSE AND YOU, and TBA titles from Calkins Creek, Peachtree, and Random House. Learn more about Suzanne and her books at: www.suzanneslade.com


  1. I really like this book, too.

    And bonus points for the fun barcode! 🙂

  2. Special Delivery sounds like a book I’d love. And, I used to collect stamps, so I love the cover.

  3. Suzanne, I loved this book too, and thanks to Matthew Cordell and Travis Jonker, we’re having fun with our own “Battle of the Picture Book Barcodes” thru June 29th at our library (www.rodmanlibrary.com). Janet Metzger, Head of Children’s Dept., Rodman Public Library ([email protected])

    • Love your Battle of the Picture Book Bar codes idea! Are you looking for the most clever art incorporating it? Is that the winner of the “battle?”

      • Yes, I love the creativity of the illustrators! I have some favorites (Cloudette, Special Delivery, Duck! Rabbit!, Me and My Dragon). The kids love Hattie Hippo and The Strange & Wonderful Tale of Robert McDoodle (underwear and dogs – can’t miss!) Of course, the “winner” in each bracket is the book that has garnered the most votes. You are able to vote multiple times, so people who have strong favorites are voting often. You can click on http://challonge.com/barcodebattle to see how the voting is going so far. Just started Round 2 this past Monday.

  4. Just this morning, I glanced at the cover of this book, and passed it by at my library! Now I will have to hurry back and snatch it up. Guess you can’t judge a book by its cover- I was looking for fiction and I, too, thought it was non-fiction.

  5. I thought it was nonfiction, too. 🙂 The story is delightful!

  6. How clever to put the plane upside down! Love that cover. I’ll look for it— thanks, Suzanne!

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