A young boy who vexes his teacher with his doodling proves the value of stories.
Bored in the back row among robotically posed classmates who are diverse racially if not in their facial expressions, Nick turns his imagination loose and doodles, quickly losing track of what he should be doing and attracting the teacher’s ire. “Stay inside not outside the lines, Nicholas. / Don’t doodle or scribble. Don’t make such a fuss. / Just color the pictures. They’re simple and plain.” But Nick can’t rein in his doodlings, and the teacher finally puts him on the spot to draw and tell a tale for the whole class. Daunted at first, he quickly spins a tale that not only enraptures his classmates, but wins over his teacher: “I didn’t know doodles / had stories that hid / outside all those lines / till I saw what you did.” And the class spends the rest of the day drawing and spinning stories of their own. “And Nicholas, well—do you know what he did? / He showed everyone where the best stories hid.” Readers may be befuddled at this declaration, as stories’ hiding places are certainly not clear from either the text or the simplistic cartoon illustrations. Nick is white; his anti–role model of a teacher has very light brown skin and glasses.
Kids’ imaginations can find stories in better places than this. (Picture book. 5-8)