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UH-OH, CLEO by Jessica Harper


Underpants on My Head

by Jessica Harper and illustrated by Jon Berkeley

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-24672-2
Publisher: Putnam

Cleo Small tells the hilarious story (based on the author’s real life) of her five siblings, two parents and a mountain hike on Mount Baldy. Readers with siblings will smile and nod with recognition as the large Small family negotiates the details of their family vacation. When Cleo and the other two older kids leave to have a few days alone with their parents in a mountain cabin, Cleo details the all-too-familiar car-trip arguments which culminate in bold Dad-words, “Okay, knock. It. Off.<\b>” The hike begins with the family swimming in a stream in their underpants and ends with the spare sets of underpants finding a new purpose—warming heads. Berkeley’s occasional black-and-white illustrations add to the humor—especially the two underwear scenes. Generous white space and a large typeface make this an inviting read for the new reader; playful changes in font add to the zest of Cleo’s narration. At the end, Cleo decides to turn this episode into fodder for in-class writing, and young writers will want to mine their family memories for stories of their own. (Fiction. 6-8)