Clark’s enthusiasm for school, while admirable, is a little too much for his classmates.
On its own, Clark’s zeal wouldn’t be so bad, but he is the largest and strongest student at his school, so his actions are more than a little intimidating to his smaller friends. He goes too fast during games of spinna-ma-jig, eats other kids’ lunches and cannot seem to use an indoor voice. Eventually, his classmates stop playing, eating and sitting with him. His teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him figure out what’s wrong, but her advice to “stay cool” doesn’t sink in—until Clark starts making rhymes to help himself remember. “Only munch your own lunch.” “Easy does it, that’s the way. Then my friends will let me play.” His plan works, and everyone appreciates the new, improved, subdued Clark—especially the large new kid, who needs some help of his own. Francis’ watercolor illustrations give Clark a rather goofy and endearing personality that is somewhat offset by the fact that he towers over his classmates. He manages to convey the emotions of the fish mainly with eye and mouth positions, and their nervousness around Clark is obvious.
Most especially, enthusiastic kids will appreciate the message that there is a time and a place for everything—they needn’t stay cool ’round the clock. (Picture book. 4-8)