Backpack Stories

Overview

A tongue-in-cheek history of backpacks from prehistory to the 21st century kicks off O'Malley's comics-inspired collection of four short tales.

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Overview

A tongue-in-cheek history of backpacks from prehistory to the 21st century kicks off O'Malley's comics-inspired collection of four short tales.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ordinary backpacks get humorous treatment in four brief stories, told in sequential art, that make good use of puns and tropes from comic books, TV and movies. The first story, “History Man,” is a tongue-in-cheek documentary about the “history” of backpacks, full of goofy humor (“Historians believe the first backpack was created by a caveman named Roscoe.... Unfortunately his friends thought he was being attacked by a beaver, and they pounded him with sticks”). “Volcano, or Candy is Dandy,” about a science fair experiment, ends with an array of comic book–style sound effects (“gurgle gurgle! bang, bang!”) as Brendan's bag turns out to be an excellent volcano. Girls will especially enjoy the tale of “ordinary Ashley” whose backpack turns her into a superhero. But O'Malley (Gimme Cracked Corn and I Will Share) saves his best lampoon for “Day of the Living Backpack,” a sly take on kids' overloaded bookbags, starring a boy whose hungry backpack starts devouring everything in sight. O'Malley hints at the possibility of a sequel: “Backpacks aren't the only thing with scary surprises inside. Just look inside your... lunchbox!” Ages 7–9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
My kindergartener has carried his backpack proudly since the first day of school. It typically contains his lunch bag and a folder. It is big, but pretty lightweight. Perhaps he will be a better audience for Kevin O'Malley's latest when his bag is more dauntingly endowed with textbooks, rec equipment, science fair projects and the like. The main characters of the four stories here are nearly overcome by their daily burden. In "History Man," readers learn about the various ways schoolchildren have carried their books throughout the ages. In "Volcano or Candy is Dandy," a backpack holds the secret ingredient that turns a volcanic science project from bust to boom. "Jet: Superpack Girl" shows a backpack that is much more than it initially appears (and turns its owner into much more than she initially appears, too), and "Day of the Living Backpack" shows one boy's struggle with a particularly hungry pack. Comic book-style illustrations add to the humor. This may be a good choice for a classroom library or an elementary school library, but the stories are not such that children would turn to them time and again. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This title will appeal to students because of its combination of silliness and colorfully graphic comic-book-style illustrations. Comprised of four short stories, each involving a backpack, the collection opens with a spoof, "History Man," on the origins of the backpack with a humorous time line that spans from the age of the caveman to the 21st century. In "Volcano," a science experiment goes awry with nasty results. A young girl transforms from Ordinary Ashley to "Jet: Super Backpack Girl" to combat disaster with the help of her backpack. In the final entry, "Day of the Living Backpack," the satchel appears to devour everything in its path and causes problems for its owner. O'Malley once again proves that he has a keen appreciation for the funny bones of his intended audience. Children will make room in their backpacks for this creative tribute to an object that has become an essential part of their everyday lives.—Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A tongue-in-cheek history of backpacks from prehistory to the 21st century kicks off O'Malley's comics-inspired collection of four short tales. Apparently backpacks were first invented by Roscoe the caveman, who slung a fur pouch on his back with disastrous results: His friends beat him, thinking he was being attacked by a beaver. In "Volcano," Brendan can't get his volcano to erupt for the science fair, but the right mix of mess in his backpack (secret ingredient: one hairy piece of candy) makes it explode and earns him an A. Then Ashley is on her way to another boring day at school when three disasters strike. She turns into Jet Super Backpack Girl and saves the day. Then in "Day of the Living Backpack," Captain Cable, a boy watching television before school, keeps putting things in his backpack, which just makes it hungrier. When it tries to eat his TV set, he shows it who's boss. The panel illustrations for each story vary accordingly and aptly in style, size and medium. A pleasing diversion for anyone who's ever lugged a zillion-pound backpack. (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807505052
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,024,013
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin O'Malley was in the fourth grade when he decided to illustrate books for children. He has a wild sense of humor and it comes through loud and clear in his books. In 1992, he made his children's book debut with Froggy Went A-Courting, based on a well known folk ballad. Kevin has illustrated books written by other writers, such as Cinder Edna and Chanukah in Chelm and has worked in animating multimedia displays for clients including the Smithsonian Institution. His latest books range from nonfiction to outrageous humor. Kevin lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his artist wife and two sons. booksbyomalley.com

Kevin O'Malley was in the fourth grade when he decided to illustrate books for children. He has a wild sense of humor and it comes through loud and clear in his books. In 1992, he made his children's book debut with Froggy Went A-Courting, based on a well known folk ballad. Kevin has illustrated books written by other writers, such as Cinder Edna and Chanukah in Chelm and has worked in animating multimedia displays for clients including the Smithsonian Institution. His latest books range from nonfiction to outrageous humor. Kevin lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his artist wife and two sons. booksbyomalley.com

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