Even when most of the “students” are plush, playroom preschool isn’t always going to be an orderly environment.
After firmly divesting Max of his gorilla suit and setting brown rabbit Lily’s volcano kit on a high shelf, “Miss Ruby” and “Miss Louise” (Ruby’s friend and Lily’s older sister) gamely string up numbers, review basic shapes, and establish rules. The tykes will have none of it: Max spots the hidden gorilla suit, and as soon as floppy Can’t-Sit-Up Slug needs to be carried off to the nurse, down comes the volcano kit. Off to the kitchen Lily and Max hustle, to add ingredients (“Paprika!” “Ketchup, sprinkles, and marmalade!”) to the baking soda–and-vinegar recipe. “Boom!” says Max admiringly, as the volcano does its thing. The “teachers’ ” rules, along with diverse classroom activities and the kit’s recipe, are hidden beneath flaps that resemble little workbooks. The toddler-shaped lagomorphs in the illustrations are as winning as ever, and along with photographed jars of rice, grains, sprinkles, and alphabet-soup letters inserted into the kitchen scene, Wells concocts a gloriously messy climactic eruption.
The science project adds an unusual wrinkle to this primer for incoming nursery schoolers. (Picture book. 3-5)