In typical child fashion, an embarrassing slip of the tongue leads one young blond boy to want to drop out of school altogether.
Mortified by what he said but even more so by the fact that his best friend, African-American Tyler, led the laughter that followed it, the unnamed narrator imagines what he might do now: he could cast a spell to unsay what he said or invent a time machine or pretend to be a new kid in school. Or perhaps he’ll just stay home and work on his jump shot until he’s a teenager and then get a job, but he sure will miss his friends and all the things they do together. But when he passes Tyler at the soccer field, his friend acts like nothing happened. Not only that, he makes a slip of his own, and just like that, the boy is a dropout no longer. Throughout, Vernick plays with the ideas of mockery and embarrassment—the boy himself laughed at something that happened to Tyler last year, and though he swore he wouldn’t laugh at his friends ever again, he does. Tyler defuses the situation by laughing at himself, and that makes all the difference. Cordell’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations masterfully portray the first-person narrator’s every emotion: chagrin, nervousness, embarrassment, sadness, anger.
A sure conversation-starter about empathy. (Picture book. 5-9)