Zach’s inattention to rules on a field trip results in a couple of embarrassing faux pas, but with help from a friend and a teacher he learns how to deal.
As in the two previous Zach Rules episodes, the plot is just a vehicle for conveying coping strategies and constructive responses for less-than-exemplary behaviors. Already mortified to be wearing a humongous school T-shirt on the trip because he forgot to wear his own, Zach is further distressed when he forgets the museum’s “no touching” rule and pats an exhibited bison. But thanks to classmate Sonya’s laughing tale of wearing a costume by mistake to a formal party and Ms. Rosamond’s failure to turn her cellphone off as directed, he doesn’t feel quite so bad. Better yet, Ms. Rosamond sits with him to demonstrate a three-step “Detect-Correct-Reflect” response to messing up and remind him that nobody, child or grown-up, is perfect. For adults who can’t absorb these points from the story, Mulcahy, a professional counselor and psychotherapist, restates them at greater length in smaller type at the end. The default expression in McKee’s cartoon illustrations is fixed, popeyed, and open-mouthed. Zach himself is a light-skinned redhead, but overall the cast displays a range of hair colors and skin tones.
Not simplistic but relentlessly utilitarian. (Picture book. 4-8)