'Weird Al' visiting Raleigh to sign his new book

astewart@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2013 

  • Want to go?

    When: 7 p.m. Friday.

    Where: Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh

    Details: No program, signing event only. For ticket information visit quailridgebooks.com

Al “Weird Al” Yankovic is making a stop in Raleigh on Friday to sign copies of his children’s book, “My New Teacher and Me!”

You read that right – the man with the long, curly hair and the goofy musical parodies has written a book for kids ages 4 to 8. It’s his second book; “My New Teacher and Me!,” released Tuesday, is a sequel to “When I Grow Up,” about a boy named Billy with a runaway imagination.

Mr. “Amish Paradise” himself will talk to fans and sign copies of the book, dedicated to his 10-year-old daughter, at Quail Ridge Books & Music.

The two books are very loosely autobiographical, Yankovic said.

“I was a pretty warped kid with a big imagination,” he said. “Billy is the kind of kid I wish I could have been.”

Better known for rewriting popular songs with his own silly lyrics, Yankovic gets his Dr. Seuss on in this literary endeavor: “Say, here’s an idea – perhaps just for laughs / I might make my living by milking giraffes!”

Other career paths Billy considers in the first book include giving haircuts to tarantulas and massaging gorillas.

“I want to have kids think about what they want to be when they grow up,” Yankovic said of his first picture book. “I want them to know that they don’t have to decide right now what they want to be.”

In “My New Teacher and Me!,” Billy goes toe-to-toe with Mr. Booth, a crotchety old teacher who doesn’t believe that Billy dug his way to China or that his third cousin’s friend has a farm full of two-headed cows.

Catering to a very young audience is fun for Yankovic because “their imaginations haven’t been crushed yet,” he said.

“It’s very gratifying to reach young children,” he said. “I can help keep their imaginations healthy and alive.”

With a career spanning four decades, Yankovic has attracted multiple generations of dedicated fans, many of whom now have kids. He said his books are an experience that parents and their children can share together.

Carol Moyer, manager of children’s books at Quail Ridge, says she expects at least 500 people to attend the signing.

One customer called in to say she was driving 2 1/2 hours with her children to see the entertainer.

On a recent stop in Minneapolis, Yankovic attracted a crowd of 850 people.

“We’re very much enjoying the creativity and liveliness of this book,” Moyer said. “He celebrates thinking outside the box.”

Kids won’t be the only ones lining up to see “Weird Al.” Quail Ridge floor manager Helen Stewart noted that plenty of adults have called the bookstore in hopes of getting old albums signed by the comedian, though tickets for the signing line are available only to those who purchase his newest book from Quail Ridge.

Stewart: 919-829-4568

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