The opening and closing life-cycle endpapers differ in only one small way, but it makes all the difference to a class that must deal with the fallout of their teacher’s love for a class pet.
Mr. Stricter is excited on the day the science project hatches: “I always wanted a pet.” The class can keep just one tadpole, releasing the rest back “into the wild.” They choose Bruno. But observant readers will notice that Bruno displays some key differences from the other tadpoles, differences that grow and grow as the days pass. The students quickly see that Bruno is a menace—breaking furniture, eating supplies, and snoring and farting at inopportune times—but love is blind for Mr. Stricter. That is until he gets a much closer view of his new pet. An internal one. His quick-thinking students save the day, and Bruno joins the tadpoles in the wild. But what about the next science project that hatches? No worries. A trip to the pet store satisfies everyone. The palette of mustard yellow, avocado green, turquoise, red, and bright orange gives the illustrations a retro look that is reinforced by Mr. Stricter’s cardigan, bow tie, and high-top sneakers, though he also has a laptop. Mr. Stricter is white, but OHora’s students are notably diverse, his palette also leading to interesting skin and hair colors.
By the end students will either be dreading or looking forward to their own tadpole studies. (Picture book. 5-9)