OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Little Gross Greg

A laugh-out-loud story about a toddler who loves all things gross.

Photo of Alvin Irby

Written by

Greg loves gross things, so reader beware. Watch out for the squishy, stinky, splatty, bloopy, and fuzzy stuff that gives adults a big scare. 

Greg looks under damp rocks in his backyard.

He touches cool bugs that feel really hard.

Greg’s mom says, “Don’t dirty your new clothes.”

Squish, squish, squish.

But Greg squishes mud between his toes.

Diapers keep Greg clean all day.

But Greg looks inside before dad throws his stinky away.

What does Greg do when he runs in his room?

Splat, splat, splat! 

He smashes bananas on the floor with a broom.

Flour is for baking pound cake or a loaf of bread for toast. 

Poof, poof, poof.

But Greg covers himself in flour. Now he’s a ghost.

“Boo!”

Greg uses a straw, but not how you think. 

Bloop, bloop, bloop.

He blows big nose bubbles in his drink. 

Greg sneaks to his room with a yummy treat. 

Ewww!

After a week under his bed, Greg’s Mac and Cheese is too fuzzy to eat. 

Don’t touch bugs, squish mud, or look in your diaper. Don’t smash bananas, throw flour, or blow nose bubbles in your drink. And please don’t hide mac and cheese under your bed.

But if you are gross or make a big mess, your family will love you - not one ounce less. 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

At a time when implicit bias has a disproportionately negative impact on the learning of Black boys, I endeavored to write an irresistibly humorous story that affirms the humanity of young Black boys and inspires children to read for fun. With this manuscript, I hope to create reading experiences in homes and schools that carve out a safe space for all children, but especially boys of color, to have fun, be silly, be gross - and thus to be children.

Share your suggested book title

Little Gross Greg

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Greg loves gross things, so reader beware. Watch out for the squishy, stinky, splatty, bloopy, and fuzzy stuff that gives adults a big scare. Greg looks under damp rocks in his backyard. He touches cool bugs that feel really hard. Greg’s mom says, “Don’t dirty your new clothes.” Squish, squish, squish. But Greg squishes mud between his toes. Diapers keep Greg clean all day. But Greg looks inside before dad throws his stinky away. What does Greg do when he runs in his room? Splat, splat, splat! He smashes bananas on the floor with a broom. Flour is for baking pound cake or a loaf of bread for toast. Poof, poof, poof. But Greg covers himself in flour. Now he’s a ghost. “Boo!” Greg uses a straw, but not how you think. Bloop, bloop, bloop. He blows big nose bubbles in his drink. Greg sneaks to his room with a yummy treat. Ewww! After a week under his bed, Greg’s Mac and Cheese is too fuzzy to eat. Don’t touch bugs, squish mud, or look in your diaper. Don’t smash bananas, throw flour, or blow nose bubbles in your drink. And please don’t hide mac and cheese under your bed. But if you are gross or make a big mess, your family will love you - not one ounce less.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

This manuscript uses a variety of developmentally appropriate tier 1 vocabulary words, which are repeated often. This manuscript also incorporates a few tier 2 words that with the support of detailed illustrations can help build a young reader's vocabulary and world knowledge. The use of onomatopoeia (i.e. sound words) is especially helpful for making the story come alive. The rhyming and lyrical structure of the story increases engagement and stickiness for both children and adults. It also supports young pre-readers' and emergent readers' development of phonemic awareness and mastery of early phonics skills. The intentional word selection, the thoughtful sequence of sentences, and the carefully positioned questions of the manuscript all help support readers' higher-order thinking skills (i.e., making predictions and inferences). The order of the sentences also helps support caregivers in asking probing questions and examining what's happening in the pictures.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

The literacy program I founded in 2013, Barbershop Books, is currently in conversation with a number of politicians in Philadelphia who have expressed an interest in helping fund child-friendly reading spaces and early literacy training for barbers in Philadelphia barbershops. The bulk of my Philly related knowledge and experiences come from conversations with local politicians describing some of the educational challenges children in the city currently face.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

It is rare to encounter a laugh-out-loud book set in an urban setting or that features characters of color. Too often "diverse" titles consist of biographies or books that focus on serious topics such as racial injustice and poverty. Humor and joy are as much a part of the urban experience as many of the common narratives that dominate children's literature. This manuscript captures universal moments of playfulness, joy, grossness, and frustration (for parents) from childhood. This book provides children and families living in urban contexts a rare opportunity to experience a funny story that affirms the humanity of boys of color.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

NY

Location: City

NEW YORK

Website URL (optional question)

https://alvinirby.com

Tell us more about you / your team

Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned award-winning social entrepreneur, comedian, national speaker, and author. As Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, winner of the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize, Irby creates create child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops across America and provides early literacy training to barbers. For nearly 10 years, Irby has performed stand-up comedy at comedy clubs, colleges, and conferences. His clever social commentary and hilarious observations earned him one of nine coveted spots in the StandUp NBC national showcase held annually at the Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles, CA. Irby has released two comedy albums and independently published one picture book.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Gross Greg, published by Alvin Irby LLC

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email
  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

13 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Robyn Campbell
Team

Super job! Best of luck.

Photo of Alvin Irby
Team

Thanks! I really enjoyed reading your book as well.

View all comments