When it comes to school, backpacks and desks go hand in hand, so it is no surprise that O’Malley has followed his Backpack Stories (2009) with this impertinent look at that standard of classroom furniture, the desk.
In these six stories, O’Malley capitalizes on most of the stereotypes associated with school—practical jokers, daydreamers and goody two-shoes, attempts to escape boring lessons and fool teachers and the quintessential messy desk. All are all wrapped up with his own particular brand of sassy, off-the-wall humor. His tour of desk history includes medieval desks that sport spikes to prevent napping during class. In "Trapped!," John gets chased down and returned to class by his monstrous desk, while "It Came from Within" chronicles the attempt of two practical jokers to even the academic playing field. A school-themed spread of jokes is followed by a high-tech look at some prototypes of Desktec’s line of desks of the future. The adventures of “Sue Smallton: The Incredible Shrinking Supergirl" round out the collection with a hideously dangerous journey into the bowels of a desk to retrieve a lost barrette. O’Malley’s artwork is a combination of different graphic styles, lending each separate story its own feel and highlighting their science-fictional basis.Silly and irreverent, this collection, with its comic-book format and sometimes disparaging attitude toward school, is sure to attract an audience. (Graphic short stories. 7-9)