Picture This: Stephen Colbert's 'I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)'

"I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)" (Grand Central: $15.99), Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's bestselling satirical jab at the I'm-a-celebrity-so-that-qualifies-me-to-write-a-children's-book fad began as a joke during his memorable interview with the late children's book author Maurice Sendak in January.

While discussing the current state of children's books, Colbert asked Sendak what makes a successful celebrity children's book. "You've started already by being an idiot," replied Sendak. The author of"Where the Wild Things Are"then went on to give Colbert a tutorial on how to draw a pole. That improvised illustration inspired Colbert's tale, which debuted on the top of national fiction, nonfiction and advice bestsellers lists.


The story follows the tall, resolute, steely protagonist on a quest of self-discovery to find his purpose in life. Just what type of pole is he destined to be? Along the way he experiments with the usual (telephone pole, ski pole), the unusual (Gallup pole, poleax) and risqué (stripper pole). But like Goldilocks, initially nothing seemed to fit just right.

It seems that there's no place for me.

Forget I ever spoke.

I guess I'm just a punch line,

to some awful pole-ish joke.

Although it fits into the category of not-for-kids picture books such as "Go the F— to Sleep," one 8-year-old boy accidentally got his hands on a copy. He thought it was really good. When asked if he liked it because there's a talking pole that wants to be a flagpole, he replied, "No, mom. It's because he becomes an American flagpole!"

Turns out, "I am a Pole" is a patriotic story. Just in time for the Fourth of July.

—Liesl Bradner