Weird Al charms fans at Naperville book signing
Weird Al Yankovic swears Billy, the young boy featured in his second children's book, isn't him.
The book is not autobiographical, he points out in a promo video featuring his own sing-songy voice reading from the beginning of "My New Teacher and Me."
But Yankovic's latest written work certainly features elements of the creative, quirky and just plain weird that have made the 53-year-old accordion player and pop satirist famous for his musical parodies.
Yankovic signed copies of "My New Teacher and Me" on Wednesday evening at Anderson's Bookshop in downtown Naperville, making one of seven appearances on a national tour promoting the follow-up to his 2011 children's picture book, "When I Grow Up."
The new book's main character — Billy, not a young Al, remember — finds a dinosaur skull while digging to China, visits a two-headed cow farm and picks blueberry muffins straight off the trees ... or at least that's what he tells his new teacher, Mr. Booth.
The stories are unlikely, to say the least, but as Yankovic writes in the book, unlikely is exactly what "the awesomest things often are."
Yankovic's appearance drew fans like Jon and Chrissy Goldyn of Lyons, who said they were thrilled to have a signed copy of the story to read to their 5-year-old son, Jack.
"I grew up with your music," Goldyn said, as Yankovic autographed an album cover for him and a book for young Jack, who already is familiar with Weird Al parodies. "The first song (Jack) ever sang in his entire life was 'Yoda.'"
Yankovic said the rhyming style of children's picture books is one he feels comfortable with, but "it doesn't flow freely out of me. It's not like I'm freestyling it."
Chatting easily and greeting fans warmly, Yankovic smiled his quirky smile with wide eyes and raised eyebrows as he penned his name to his new book and various other works.
Hawaiian shirts — like the one Yankovic wore Wednesday with jeans and Vans sneakers — were a common sight among the crowd of hundreds waiting for autographs, as were Weird Al concert T-shirts in a variety of forms.
Lori Anesi of Bartlett rocked a "White & Nerdy" tee in the colors and style of the Wonder Bread logo as she met the man behind her shirt's namesake parody of the song "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire. Other fan apparel said "Weird Al is my homeboy" or sported Weird Al's name on a baseball jersey.
Fred Olderr of Melrose Park, who has been to 168 Weird Al concerts over the years, lead off the autograph line, closely followed by Michelle Gargrave of Woodridge, who shrieked with excitement as she hugged Yankovic, her favorite artist since 1985.
Many adult fans came without children, and Yankovic said "My New Teacher and Me," which went on sale at bookstores Tuesday, will have a broad appeal among his fans.
"People of all ages can enjoy my music," he said Wednesday "And I think that applies to the children's book as well."
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