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RUSSELL’S SECRET by Johanna Hurwitz


by Johanna Hurwitz & illustrated by Heather Maione

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-17574-0
Publisher: HarperCollins

Hurwitz takes a standard theme—“I don’t want to go to school”—and develops it in an intriguing and merry fashion: It’s not so much that the boy becomes bored, but how he does. Four-year-old Russell, the subject of three earlier Hurwitz books, doesn’t choose to go to preschool one morning and he throws a fit to make his point. Distracted by another crying baby, Russell’s sister Elisa, his mother relents: “If you want to be a baby, you can stay home and be a baby today.” Russell does a little dance of joy, but soon learns the limitations of babyhood. He switches on the tube, then his mother reminds him that babies don’t watch television. He plays with his Legos, until his mother points out that they are a choking hazard for babies. The only kind of food he gets is either taken from a bottle or mashed to a pulp, and naps are everywhere. Russell opts for school before it is too late. The pleasure here, in addition to Maione’s delicate and effective pen-and-wash illustrations, is how neatly Hurwitz skirts any one-upmanship on the part of Russell’s mother. It is simple experience that slips the message to Russell, and it becomes his decision to go to school. (Picture book. 3-6)