Thursday, August 12, 2021

Picture Book Review: My School Stinks! by Becky Scharnhorst, illustrated by Julia Patton (2021)

Quick Booktalk

In a series of diary entries a young boy relates his shocking experiences attending a school for wild animals. 

About the Illustrations

Each two-page spread in this book consists of an image of the boy's diary entry on lined paper, accompanied by a scene that illustrates some incident mentioned in the entry. The color scheme is pretty subdued considering all the excitement that goes on in the story, and sometimes it is hard to know where the reader's eye is meant to be drawn first. Though the contrast between what the text conveys and what is shown by the pictures is meant to provide the story's humor, the illustrations are too subtle on many pages to make that work. 

Story Time Possibilities

Though there is lots of physical action on each page to engage the reader, the details are too subtle to be seen by more than a handful of listeners sitting pretty close to the adult who is reading aloud, so this book is only going to work in a small-group story time setting. I do think it could be used to help break the ice with kids who are nervous about the first day of school, since wild animals attending school is pretty silly and laughter is a good way to deal with tension. For homeschooled kids like mine, the interest will be more in the animal humor than the school aspect.

Readers Advisory

This book would be fun to pair with There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor by Wade Bradford or May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and Beni Montresor, as both books involve animals in an unexpected environment. Because of the format of the story and the understated humor, I think it's best for independent elementary readers who can take the time to carefully observe each illustration individually. Some kids may find that the book tries to get too much out of what is essentially one joke, but for others the humor will strike just the right chord. For me personally, this wasn't quite a hit; I just never quite felt immersed in the world of the story. 


I received a finished review copy of My School Stinks! from Penguin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...