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A BOOK OF COUPONS by Susie Morgenstern


by Susie Morgenstern & illustrated by Serge Bloch

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-89970-4
Publisher: Viking

A sourpuss principal successfully forces a beloved teacher into retirement in this sketchy, unsatisfying import. So fond of giving presents that he’s nicknamed “Santa,” Hubert Noël starts the school year by passing out a set of coupons, each of which can be redeemed for skipping a day of school, eating in class, clowning around, refusing to go to the chalkboard, or some like gift. This goes over like a lead balloon with his new principal, Madame Incarnation Perez, who repeatedly calls him on the carpet, and at last hands him walking papers. Not even getting her own book of coupons (“One coupon for a smile . . . one coupon to make up a poem,” etc.) softens her attitude, so Noël finishes the year and quietly goes off, with a coupon from his students, “for a happy and well-deserved retirement.” The point of view shifts erratically from various children to Perez or Noël, and the plot is little more than a string of teachable moments. Readers hoping for the emotional depth of Secret Letters From 0 To 10 (1998) or an effervescent classroom environment à la Gregory Maguire’s Seven Spiders Spinning (1994) and its sequels, will be disappointed. Occasional, freely drawn cartoons add little to the atmosphere or humor. (Fiction. 9-11)