A jaunty, mock-didactic rhyme about the misadventures of young Thomas Mead, who will not learn to read. Ignoring the sign ""Danger Workmen Overhead,"" he ends up with green paint on his hair. (Kids who read the picture will notice that he has also ignored the ladder and paint bucket directly in his path.) He goes to wash off in a department store LADIES room because he doesn't know which is which, later gets hit by a door reading ""Store Room Keep Clear,"" and then causes a traffic jam crossing the street against a lit-up ""Don't Walk"" signal. And through it all, whenever irate strangers bawl ""Can't you read,"" Thomas answers ""Why should I?"" But a stay in the clinker for jay-walking turns Thomas around. His parents won't bail him out till he learns to read, and so his stripe-suited fellow-cons teach him how. Now when his parents urge him to put down his books and go to sleep, Thomas still answers ""Why should I?"" The jail scene puts the cap and feather on a lively spoof that is briskly related, illustrated with punch, and tailor-made for beginning readers.