A well-traveled premise, but like all of its ilk, a fertile source of inspiration for similarly dilatory students.

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A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL...

In the grand tradition of John Burningham’s John Patrick Norman McHennessy, the Boy Who Was Always Late (1987), a tardy lad spins exciting if unlikely excuses to a skeptical teacher.

Considering that giant ants ate his breakfast, and then, among other distractions, he was assaulted or kidnapped on the way by ninjas, mole people, elephants and “a sea of scary majorettes,” had to help sort out a milling mass of sheep and ducks, almost forgot his backpack and accidently rode his uncle’s time machine back to the age of dinosaurs, it’s not so surprising that he’s a bit late. In manic cartoon illustrations, Chaud propels the disheveled but determined student through a series of hilariously surreal situations—fetching him up at last in school, looking shocked that his teacher (who hasn’t caught sight of the dinosaur leaning in at the window) doesn’t believe him. Wouldn’t you? She may have cause, though, as he had already spun a similar skein of yarns in the preceding I Didn’t Do My Homework Because… (2014).

A well-traveled premise, but like all of its ilk, a fertile source of inspiration for similarly dilatory students. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3168-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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