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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Hey, Baby, They’re Playing Our Song

The hazards of children’s librarianship are myriad. There is the papercut threat, liable to occur at any time without a moment’s notice.  There is the distinct possibility, every day, that a small child will vomit on you.  The odds may be slim but it’s still possible.  But greater than these, more likely than these, more insidious by far than any of these, is the threat that puts all others to shame . . .

The Picture Book Earworm

You’ve been there. You’re either sorting a cart or you’re checking books in or maybe you’re just innocently buying some titles from Baker & Taylor.  Then suddenly, ATTACK!  You encounter a picture book with a title that is clearly a song you know well.  And then, for at least the next hour (if you’re lucky), the earworm will force you to play that song over and over again in your head.

2017 has, for whatever reason, been a particularly strong earworm year for picture books.

Now I should define my terms.  Earworms do not count when a song has been directly adapted into a picture book format.  Therefore this


Pigeons, for the record, are hot in 2017. Has anyone else noticed this?

is not a Picture Book Earworm. That’s just a song with pictures.  And, as a side note, anyone else notice that Jean Jullien has produced at least three different picture books with three different publishers in 2017?  Busy dude, that.

Here then are the picture books I have located with videos of their most obvious song pairings.  If you spot any others this year, let me know.  I’ll add them as well.

The first and most obvious (and I’d call it a clear tribute to Bowie if it weren’t for the fact that it was written and even named before David’s death):


For the record, Agee’s book is oddly bereft of sailor fighting in the dance hall.




I may well be the only one out there who makes this next connection:




If you thought you could get through the day without a Flo Rida link you, my friend, were wrong.

Admit it.  It’s catchy.



You may be able to build a case for the fact that I listen to too much pop music on the radio.


And finally, because it makes for a perfect capper:


Is it just me, or is this the best pairing of them all?  It fits!!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Eric Carpenter says:

    Every time I see Matthew Cordell’s WOLF IN THE SNOW, Belle and Sebastian’s Fox in the Snow immediately starts playing in my head.

  2. I’m a little sad that I saw the last one and the “Perfect Day” that immediately jumped into my head is from the Barbie Princess and Pop Star soundtrack. In my defense, it’s a terribly catchy song!!

  3. I understand the “Pass It On” reference! One of my favorite Christmas videos is The Muppet Family Christmas.

  4. Such a funny and creative post, Betsy!
    I love “Happy Together”–you can’t help but smile when hearing that song. It’s infectious. I’ll have to check out that book.

    And the pairing of “Welcome to My House” with Flo-Rida is brilliant :)

  5. Brooke Shirts says:

    Ahhhh, yes — whenever I see the Janeczko/Raschka poetry anthology “A Kick in the Head,” I immediately hear Dean Martin.

  6. Admittedly, I like niche music, but when I saw “Safe & Sound”, my brain immediately start sing-screaming this gem:

  7. Frances Smith says:

    Not from this year, but every time I shelve Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl (which is often), I am attacked by the Dire Straits song Skateaway. Every. Time.