Katz’s (sub)titular show and tell has a room full of racially diverse students making proclamations that would normally get them sent to the principal’s office, giving this book a forbidden-fruit vibe.
A cold and rainy day prompts Mrs. Mueller to cancel recess and hold show and tell instead. Jimmy’s response? “That stinks!” The class gasps, mouths agape, but Jimmy is just referring to the item he’s sharing: his pet skunk. “Aw, nuts!” says Susie: she shows off a bowl of several kinds. And so it goes, each student turning a potentially inflammatory comment into an innocuous one, though some are more jaw-dropping than others—“This totally bites!”—and some are just downright cheesy (literally). And the nerds are easily pinpointed: Monica shows off her gross of pencils, and Thomas displays an electrical circuit (“Shocking!”). Gilpin proves he is a master of both facial expressions and kids’ body language; a raised eyebrow here and a crinkled nose there exude disgust, and there’s no child who won’t recognize the talk-to-the-hand gesture accompanied by upward-looking eyes that he does so well in his digital illustrations. But Katz’s text is not as strong. One wonders how the kids came to have these items in school (especially the pet skunk and the family’s dinner garbage) when the activity is presented as an impromptu decision. The items also seem to be chosen more for their pun-ability than as a reflection of kids’ reality.
Like a pun, this book will either go over really well or flop. (Picture book. 4-8)