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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Top 100 Picture Books #81: Fortunately by Remy Charlip

#81 Fortunately by Remy Charlip (1964)
25 points

When I worked in the Children’s Center at 42nd Street I had a bad habit of relying on the same storytime picture book readaloud staples over and over and over again.  And Fortunately, for good or for ill, was one of those staples.  I loved it for so many reasons.  For one thing, when you show kids the cover they are not enthused.  It doesn’t look interesting to them.  But about the time you get to the motor in the airplane exploding, they’re hooked.  And when the pitchfork and the tigers come along you have them squarely in the palm of your hand. There have been lots of imitators since its creation (Fortunately, Unfortunately by Michael Foreman, Boing! by Sean Taylor, That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington D.C. by Margery Cuyler, etc.) but none can touch it.

The description from the publisher reads: “Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately, the motor exploded. Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute. What else could go wrong as Ned tries to get to the party? Readers will cheer as Ned’s luck turns from good to bad to good again, while clever illustrations tell the story of his wacky adventure and narrow escapes.”

I was in Bologna in 2011 and while there I saw that the book was being heavily promoted by . . . oh, let’s say the Italians.  A little late since the book originally came out in 1964, but better late than never.

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Charlip but his name seems to ring a bell then it’s may be because Brian Selznick used him as the model for George Melies in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He talks about Remy as an inspiration here.

I hesitate to post this due to the fact that my wet hair looks like nothing so much as an up-and-coming rat’s nest, but in any case here is a video of me reading this book aloud.  You may see why I like it so.

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. We LOVE this book at our house!! (And we’ve watched your hilarious read aloud video, too, to great amusement. My kids think you and I look alike which is funny since we’re both “Betsy” too).

    3 Cheers for Fortunately!

  2. As a “Real-Aloud” volunteer, I share FORTUNATELY with second graders every year. And, at the end of each year, it ranks as one of their favorite books. You’re right. It hooks them every time!

  3. I didn’t know this one, but now I’m going to have to try it. Fun! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love Jan Thomas, her books are always a hit at storytime. CAN YOU MAKE A SCARY FACE is just as good as RHYMING DUST BUNNIES. Great video, thanks for sharing.

  5. Despite not having seen the book in more than 30 years, I have very strong memories of the school librarian reading this story to my class when I was about 5. The image of the pitchfork page, in particular, stuck in my head and I often wondered over the years what this book was. I shall have to get a copy for my nephew and nieces.

  6. Yay!!! This is a favorite at home. My daughter brought it in to her old preschool class when she learned to read in Kindergarten. She is in 2nd grade now and whenever it’s her turn to share a book, she wants it to be this one. I’m not sure that I want her to see this video though, Betsy. You put how I’ve always read it to shame! So excited to see this make the list.


  1. […] Charlip’s most famous work, Fortunately (Parents’ Magazine Press, 1964), a light-hearted, engaging picture book about a young boy who encounters a number of perils on his way to a friend’s birthday party, remains a staple during story hours, and School Library Journal’s blog, Fuse 8, named it one of its Top 100 Picture Books. […]