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Back to School Books for the End of Summer. – 08/22/13

Posted on: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The title says it all.

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School by Ken Derby is for kids in grades 3 through 5.  “Fifth-grader Tony Madison is a magnet for trouble. Irrepressible, unstoppable, and outrageous, he is constantly thinking up ways to make it on to David Letterman’s show. He has his own collection of stupid human and pet tricks that he is sure will be his ticket to New York. After trying each new prank, he writes to the talk-show host and includes a top-10 list detailing his stunts. Unfortunately, most of these exploits end up with Tony in the principal’s office and his teacher, Mr. Gore, going home to change his clothes. One of his feats finally earns him the sought-after invitation (he makes the national news when he runs onto the field dressed as a bear during a professional football game). Tony, two of his friends, and Mr. Gore travel to New York City where Tony proceeds to wreak his own brand of havoc on the Big Apple. It all culminates with his arrival on Late Night escorted by Hell’s Angels on motorcycles. Humorous and lighthearted with a feisty and zany main character, this book will be enjoyed by readers who like offbeat plots and nonstop wacky action. - Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.  All rights reserved.”  Review from Amazon.

School Year Will Be the BEST! by Kay Winters  is for kids in grades K through 3. “On the first day of school, the teacher gathers her students into a circle to share their wishes for the coming year. Some are negative (“I won’t be a vegetable in our school play”), some rosy (“I’ll look good in my school picture”), and some perhaps overly optimistic (“We’ll have SKATEBOARD DAY”), but as a group, they reflect a great many facets of the elementary-school experience. The text concludes with the teacher’s wish to “get to know each one of you,” which falls a bit flat. The final, wordless double-page spread, with happy children holding crayon pictures emblematic of their wishes, creates a more satisfying ending for this picture book. And, in the classroom, it could lead straight into the year’s first art project. The short text leaves plenty of space for Andriani to work in, and she uses it imaginatively, creating upbeat and sometimes comical ink-and-wash illustrations. A good discussion starter for the beginning of the school year. — Carolyn Phelan” Review from Amazon.

I Spy School Days: A Book of Picture Riddles  by Jean Marzollo is for kids aged 4 through 8.  : Fans of the elegantly energetic I Spy picture-puzzle series may wonder how Wick could top the lavish sets he created for I Spy Funhouse and I Spy Mystery. Here, however, he and Marzollo surpass their previous achievements-by reversing direction. While they stick to the same formula (under a full-bleed photo of artistically arrayed objects, verse challenges the reader to find various objects), this time they eschew special effects and razzle-dazzle compositions in favor of sunny spreads showcasing, for the most part, common items. Most sets are basic, from a classroom blackboard to a playground floor to a homemade puppet theater. But each apparently simple spread wordlessly and playfully reinforces learning skills. In a spread featuring plastic numerals from one to 12, for example, each number is surrounded by related objects; a building block emblazoned with “X” and a toy clown wagging the splayed fingers on his hands are among the items illustrating the number 10. The puppet theater is hung with cardboard cutouts of figures and props from classic fairy tales. Other sets teach such concepts as sets and patterns, cleverly integrating items seen on previous spreads. By stressing the value of everyday objects, this ingenious volume will encourage readers to look closely at not just the pictures, but at their own surroundings. Ages 3-8. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.:  Review from Amazon.

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