A nonstop barrage of idioms baffles a boy on the first day of school in this small-format book, best for its insouciant illustrations. On each page, the child hears a figure of speech ("My mother said I got up on the wrong side of the bed) and, as the illustrations show, he takes the words literally. Told he'd "be in a real pickle if we missed the bus," for example, the boy envisions himself riding with other latecomers in a vehicle made of a pickle slice; this image, like the others, combines a photo with larkish pen-and-ink drawing, and Bloch (I Can't Wait) packs an outsize amount of comedy into each stroke of his pen. Adding minimal facial features, he imbues half a dozen bananas with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (the "top banana" preens above the wannabes). Although the boy's feelings are on target-he fears school, misses his dog, dreads lunch but trades grins with the boy at the next desk-the one-note lines can grow thin; the book may be better browsed than read through. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Rachel Miller
The first day of school can be confusing and agonizing for many children, especially when adults are using phrases that a child might not understand. This play on words story about a child's first day of school is a clever take on many figures of speech. The author uses idioms that adults say to demonstrate a first day of school scenario. The child starts out waking up on the wrong side of the bed and finds out that the cat has got his tongue when he gets to school. By the end of the day, he also finds out that school is a tough nut to crack. Any child who is learning about figures of speech or idiomatic sayings will find this delightful story amusing. The illustrations that depict the figures of speech are cleverly done in color, while the people and the unimportant details are illustrated in black and white. This story also allows for opportunities for discussion between parent and child and teacher and child. Any curriculum using figures of speech could easily use this as a piece of literature to convey the meaning of these sayings. This book could also be used to formulate more idiomatic sayings to help children understand figures of speech. The story is wonderful, entertaining, and very amusing! Reviewer: Rachel Miller
School Library Journal
A nameless little boy braves the first day of school in this crisply illustrated picture book. The text is a series of idioms that take him through the day, from waking up "on the wrong side of the bed," to having a "long face" at lunch, to being "happy as a puppy with two tails" when he finally comes home to his dog. The illustrations interpret each idiom literally, often to comic effect: "we'd be in a real pickle if we missed the bus" is accompanied by a pickle-as-bus picture, while meeting the "Big Cheese" shows a principal wearing a dress made of Swiss cheese. Bloch's graphic style incorporates photographs of objects into pen-and-ink drawings, and the copious use of white space keeps the focus squarely on the words and their visual interpretations. Wallace Edwards's Monkey Business (Kids Can, 2004) covers similar territory, but with a much more elaborate illustration style that goes more for humor than understanding. Here, Bloch's simple though imaginative pictures and clean visual style invite discussion of the deeper meanings of these oft-used phrases, making this an ideal book for the classroom or for one-on-one sharing.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
In a less-is-more approach, simple black-and-white cartoons augmented with photocollage depict one little boy's first-day-at-school encounters with a seemingly endless string of cliches. As he bids his faithful dog Roger adieu, his Dad tells him "to put his best foot forward;" against the white background, an ink-lined round-headed kids steps out, his father's brown brogan leading the way. And so it goes, through cans of worms and cups of tea, till he arrives home to Roger, "happy as a puppy with two tails." Slight, just-right, back-to-school fun. (Picture book. 5-8)
From the Publisher
"Bloch’s simple though imaginative pictures and clean visual style invite discussion of the deeper meanings of these oft-used phrases, making this an ideal book for the classroom or for one-on-one sharing."– School Library Journal