The latest picture book by this celebrated author-illustrator is full of mordant humor and interesting ideas. A British schoolboy is always late and always with a dramatically good excuse: a crocodile seized his satchel and wouldn't let go; he was washed away by a tidal wave. His sneering teacher greets each excuse with a firm, "There are no such things. . ." and devises escalating punishments--until the day when John Patrick arrives on time and the teacher announces, ". . .I am being held up on the roof by a great big hairy gorilla. You are to get me down at once," and J.P.N. McH's reply begins, "There are no such things. . ." This story has interesting undercurrents. Each incident is punctuated by the sentence, "John Patrick Norman McHennessy set off along the road to learn," which also concludes the story as he walks away from the school and the teacher (and the gorilla). Also, during those incidents outside the school, the pages are awash with subtly glorious color, while the dialogues with the teacher take place in somber black-and-white barely touched with earth tones. Burningham is saying something very serious about schools and education; beneath the marvelously amusing grotesquerie, there is a thoughtful question: Where do we really learn? And why?