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MISSION: BACK TO SCHOOL by Susan Hood Kirkus Star


Top-Secret Information

by Susan Hood ; illustrated by Mary Lundquist

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-385-38471-1
Publisher: Random House

In a clever take on the back-to-school theme, Hood presents the first day of school as a secret agent’s mission, with steps to complete.

“Your mission? To begin the first phase of training in your hunt for intelligence.” Step No.1 is to suit up. The story follows multiple kids. There’s one searching the laundry for a favorite shirt, another who lost a shoe, and still another who wears every favorite piece of clothing at once—tiara, tutu, cowboy boots. Step 2: rendezvous at vehicle checkpoint. This includes those who are walking, biking, or getting to school by bus or car. The intelligence officer (teacher) hands out IDs (nametags), and then agents must build diplomatic relations (say hello in seven different languages, including Robot) and get debriefed (circle time). From subjects studied and school rules to the basic schedule and a mishap (an escaped class pet), the 19 steps pretty much cover it all, albeit in wonderful tongue-in-cheek secret-agent language that kids will really enjoy. Lundquist’s artwork does the heavy lifting, as there is no text other than the steps and a few speech bubbles. The watercolor illustrations feature diverse children, a white male teacher, and even a set of twins (one wears glasses)—aka double agents. This will not only calm new students’ fears, but give them a unique way to look at their own first days of school.

Hood and Lundquist? Mission accomplished. And grown-ups with fledgling spies? Add some secret-agent supplies to your shopping lists. (Picture book. 4-8)