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MAMA REX & T by Rachel Vail


The Horrible Play Date

by Rachel Vail & illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-40627-7
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

When T’s friend Walter comes over to play, things go badly. Their expectations are great, so when they hit T’s room they are running at full throttle. T is a little taken aback by Walter’s fury—he smashes T’s bed-fort, he demolishes a truck they are building out of Legos—but T is game enough to join in the ruckus. Walter wants all the best stuff—the yellow marbles at Chinese checkers, for instance: “T didn’t want to be red”—but T appreciates that Walter is his guest, so he consents. Only when Walter grabs the better of the art materials, especially the only googly eyeball, does T snap, chucking his crumpled, crummy beige paper, which hits Walter on the ear. They both run wailing to T’s mother. She suggests a remedy: “It may be difficult to find,” she says. “The cure for the Horrible Play Date, . . . It’s in here,” she tells the boys, looking around T’s room. So the boys start searching and what they find, unbeknownst to them, is a shared quest—in a word, cooperation. Vail’s (Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, p. 53, etc.) story will strike resonant chords among its readers, no doubt, and Björkman’s (Safari Park, 2002, etc.) illustrations, with their sprays of color and hectic lines, practically define the book’s big word: rambunctious. But cooperation is an even bigger idea; the chemistry needed for its flowering, once the external stimulus has been applied—from T’s mother in this case—is more formulaic than earned in these pages. (Easy reader. 5-8)