A humorous story with over-the-top morals, uneven rhyme schemes, and comic illustrations.

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BETTERNOT! AND THE TALE OF BRAT SCHOOL

TEACHING MORALS AND MANNERS IN SCHOOL

A magical creature punishes rampaging students in this third installment of a picture book series.

Classrooms are a fantastic place to learn—unless they’re in Brat School. There, Fong (BetterNot! And the Tale of Brat Sports, 2016, etc.) depicts a teacher hiding behind his desk and biting his nails, the word HELP! written across the chalkboard, while his students run amok. When the principal warns the pupils they better change their ways or BetterNot will arrive, they tie a rocket to his feet and send him soaring. Unsurprisingly, the threatened BetterNot, resembling a genie crossed with a wraith, appears in a purple fog to set the kids on the right track. For each appropriately named child, there’s a matching punishment. Cass Clown is stuck in clown makeup in a painting like Munch’s The Scream while Ira is transported to Mars for interrupting before the teacher explains the red planet has no air. Some young readers will find BetterNot’s punishments appropriate while others will likely wonder if poor Ira died before learning his lesson or if Andy Disbeliever survived the aquarium tank he’d doubted was wet. Though Del Vecchio’s (BetterNot! And the Tale of Brat Sports, 2016, etc.) text rhymes, the meter is all over the place. Fong’s amusing images showcase BetterNot’s whimsical acts and dark sense of justice while showing a diverse cast of misbehavers and teachers.

A humorous story with over-the-top morals, uneven rhyme schemes, and comic illustrations.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-93150-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: BetterNot Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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