17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore

Words by Jenny Offill, Pictures by Nancy Carpenter

First of all…how hysterical is this cover? I LOVE the shadow of dear old Mom covering a little girl who is gleefully squeezing glue all over the place. Covers like this make me want to dive inside. Who IS she? What else does she try to do for which she CLEARLY gets in trouble?

I had an idea to staple my brother’s hair to his pillow.

I am not allowed to use the stapler anymore.

And that’s just the first thing. Page by page, this {ahem} creative little girl describes the things she is no longer allowed to do. And page by page, the illustrations hysterically set the scene. Because the text is so dry and the illustrations are so lively, this pairing of art plus words is very successful.

In art and design, texture adds a richness and depth to an otherwise flat page. Nancy Carpenter’s illustrations are a combination of scanned photographs and pen and ink drawings, and the layered look that results is awfully striking.

The character doesn’t have to say too much and we still understand so much about her. But the illustrations provide a frame of reference to explore more of her world. And the results? Clever, funny, and another entire dimension to the story.

I love the dizzying motion blur effect on her as she cartwheels as part of her big idea. Look at her face and how proud she is! But what I really find most remarkable about this page is the playground and horizon made out of elastic underpants bands. Blue for the sky, greens for the fields. FUNNY!

Crumpled up paper, torn up homework, and poor Joey Whipple not catching a break.

Even the dog is onto her dramatic ways. But you sure can’t blame the kid for not wanting succotash for dinner. Ew.


  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I love the expressive faces and body language, and the collage feel in the illustrations. Having lived through a spunky creative daughter’s developing years, I have a special connection with the story. The cover could be an illustration of a scene from my life as a parent.

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Ha! Hope you haven’t had any sticky glue messes. I have a feeling this little girl is VERY relatable to kids AND parents. 🙂

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Awesome! So right that it’s a great example of the interplay between text and words. Love it!

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I need to get my hands on this one. I love the illustrations with the spare text. Excellent!

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    You might like this one by Jenny Offill, too: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10765595-11-experiments-that-failed

    Looks just as funny:)

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I love this book so much it hurts. It is out-and-out hysterical and the art could not be more full of character.

    I bought it before my son was born and have it hidden away so he doesn’t get any whacky ideas!

    You know there’s a sequel?

    Your pal,


  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh, just saw your link to 11 Experiments. I guess you do know. Never mind.

  • Posted April 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, pal. You’re a peach!

  • Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Cater, I am catching up on your blog posts and I am delighted to add so many wonderful books to my list for the library. I love your perspective. Thanks for your blog!

  • Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Penny!

  • Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    *love* It’s genious, from the crumpled ruler lined school paper to the wood background on the beaver page – so many fun design nuances, each conveying personality.

  • Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Agreed. It’s so satisfying to see something new on each read, too.

  • Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Great post, Carter. I have to get my hands on this book. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    What wonderful illustrations! Really inspiring to a novice artist like me. I particularly love the one with the little girl & the glue bottle and the girl at the chalkboard. Almost reminiscent of Norman Rockwell. Glad I found your site. 🙂

  • Posted April 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink


  • Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Looks so funny!!!

  • Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    The underpants kill me.

  • Nancy Carpenter
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Sadly, I needed my husband to point out this entire post devoted to my book. I am giddy reading your comments because in some cases I’m getting feedback for the first time. Thanks so much for noticing the underpants landscape. It’s one of my favorite epiphanies while working on the book. My daughter was furious when she found out I was scanning her underwear for the sake of art but, now, thinks it hilarious that her underwear is “published”.
    Thanks Carter. I look forward to keeping up with your site now. Sorry it took so long.
    -Nancy Carpenter

  • Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Nancy! So wonderful to have you!! I needed the reminder of an underwear landscape this morning:)

  • Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Dear Nancy, I teach a graduate level Picture Book Media class at Hollins University and this is one of my FAVORITE books to teach that uses the digital media. I show slides of your great book, but I am a pretty old school illustrator, so a lot of how you achieve these results is still a mystery. Your humor and creativity delight me and you draw beautifully as well!
    Your ardent fan, AW

  • Posted October 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Cool, cool, cool. I love these comments.