A clever tale about a kid who wants this year to be his showcase for the perfect school picture.
The unnamed narrator might as well be called Wisenheimer. He tells readers that he really is excited about making this year’s school photo the best ever, but they’ve got a right to wonder. He doesn’t try to curb his hair—it’s “the worst case of bedhead ever”—or find an alternative to his favorite shirt, which is found stained, wrinkled and smelly in the bottom of the hamper. He gets syrup all over his head at breakfast (it somehow magically disappears in what film critics would call a “continuity error”), then into a touch of spitball trouble with the bus driver, which puts a scowl on his face when he has to sit up front. Readers may start to catch on after he gets paint on himself in art class: Maybe Wisenheimer is just a standard slobby kid, and the perfect photo was never fated to be. Then the story turns on a dime, and then on another dime, and maybe more attention should have been paid to that bedhead, which does look somewhat like the devil’s horns. Diesen has crafted a nice piece of work, and Santat’s Photoshop illustrations have a polish that heightens the immediacy of the moment.
This tale of a young Wisenheimer is plenty crafty and features a satisfyingly fitting requital. (Picture book. 4-8)