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SMARTYPANTS (PETE IN SCHOOL) by Maira Kalman

SMARTYPANTS (PETE IN SCHOOL)

By Maira Kalman (Author) , Maira Kalman (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: July 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-23478-0
Publisher: Putnam

A delightful, cleverly written combination of wackiness and academia. When Poppywise’s dog Pete (who always eats everything in sight, as noted in What Pete Ate from A-Z [2001]) sneaks into school, the result is inevitable: he gobbles up not just an entire orchestra’s instruments and “the fractions in a box marked fractions,” but also a 26-volume encyclopedia. Soon he’s using words like “ergo” and “empirically” and explaining gravity and light bulbs. It’s temporary, but that’s okay; the best thing happening here is not Pete’s new talent but the luscious spattering of real subjects (Gertrude Stein, trapezoids, gerunds, The Bill of Rights) into the story. It’s interesting how successful the illustrations are—colorful, energetic, and varied—considering the absence of technical drawing skills. The humor and details won’t work for group readings, but this is an excellent choice for early readers to try on their own or with a playful adult. (Picture book. 5-8)