Jay Leno airs a beef in a new kid's book. The childless comic unearths an incident from his own youth for his kiddie-lit debut

By Gary Susman
Updated July 22, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The target audience for Jay Leno’s new book may not know who he is, since it’s probably too young to stay up late enough to watch ”The Tonight Show.” Nonetheless, the comic, who has no children of his own, is making his kiddie-lit debut with ”If Roast Beef Could Fly,” a book he wrote based on an incident from his own childhood. Due out next summer, ”Roast Beef” will include illustrations by S.B. Whitehouse depicting the little Leno.

Recalling the family Sunday dinner that inspired the book, Leno told the Associated Press ”I was fascinated by the roast beef going around the spit. So I took out my little plastic comb and stuck it in the meat. At one point the comb caught on the string used to tie the roast beef. So I went, ‘Uh-oh,’ and I didn’t want to break the motor. So I said, ‘OK,’ and I walked away.

”When my dad brought the roast beef out, he started to cut it and then — clunk! — a big piece of plastic fell off and the meat was pink underneath. Of course everybody was — ‘Eww!’ — sickened by this, and my dad started yelling in Italian, picked up the roast beef and threw it out the window.”

Leno’s not a complete stranger to children’s entertainment. He voices the superhero The Crimson Chin on Nickelodeon’s cartoon ”The Fairly OddParents.”