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Jimmy Kimmel’s New Book Has the Secret for Cheering Up Kids

All you have to do is ask them this question.

ABC/Random House

Cheering up a kid who’s in a bad mood is one of the trickiest and most necessary things a parent can do. Just ask father of four Jimmy Kimmel.

The late-night comedian, who celebrates his 16th anniversary as the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! next month, is releasing a children’s bookThe Serious Goose. It was inspired by the question he asks his youngest kids, Jane and Billy, when he wants them to crack a smile.

“I’d ask her: ‘Today, are you a serious goose or a silly goose?’ It was really kind of a way of getting her out of a bad mood,” he says of Jane. “I liked trying to change her from the serious to the silly goose.”

Kimmel wrote and illustrated the book himself, and it’s a clever way to add depth to the phrase “silly goose,” an overused entry in the kids-talk canon.

It’s not yet in bookstores, but from the pages we’ve seen Kimmel has the artistic chops to pull off the book. The Serious Goose looks strinkingly serious (until, spoiler alert, she doesn’t), and the thick black lines and handwritten lettering on a white background give the book the feeling of a very sparse comic book.

The subject matter itself has a lot in common with the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs & Ham. Both books have dour, stubborn protagonists who gradually loosen up through the course of the story. It’s a lesson that, if you ask parents dealing with their intransigence, kids can’t learn quickly enough.

Proceeds from the book will benefit children’s hospitals around the country including the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where Billy had heart surgery when he was a newborn.