Who doesn’t want to learn new excuses for unfinished assignments?
That’s just what this title offers—26 outlandish solutions to that “What to say?” dilemma. When a boy is questioned by his teacher about the missing homework, he thinks fast. The ideas fire in rapid succession, from being attacked by Vikings and hiding escaped convicts in his bedroom to giving his pencils to Robin Hood and sacrificing workbooks to heat his home. Chaud’s ink-and-watercolor scenes vary from single- to double-page spreads, with simpler compositions than in The Bear’s Song (2013), although there are some crowd scenes, as when the “famous director asked to use my bedroom to shoot his new movie.” Cowboys, Indians on horseback and glamorous women make themselves at home, surrounded by the railroad track and film crew. Shades of red and green dominate the palette, lending a sense of uniformity to an otherwise diverse range of settings and characters. The combination of the boy’s formal attire—a dark suit and bright red tie—and his long, unruly hair casts uncertainty as to his veracity, until the teacher pulls out the book from behind her back to reveal the same one in readers’ hands; the game is up.
Ultimately, “list” books wear thin, and this is no exception. It will likely be passed around, but repeated readings are not particularly rewarding. (Picture book. 5-9)