Blume certainly knows her way around this age group. She knows that calling somebody a baby is such a powerful weapon that it needs to be rationed and that a substitute teacher can release the anarchic impulse in even the best-behaved soul…James Stevenson's pen and wash drawings also provide balance, along with warmth and personality; a few strokes and we can reliably distinguish between all four Emmas at Abigail's school. One squiggly smile line and we share Jake's pleasure in chewing on his toy elephant's ear. Stevenson also draws the best noses since William Steig.
The New York Times
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3- In the third easy chapter book about the Pain (first-grader Jake) and the Great One (third-grader Abigail), Blume relates several common childhood concerns. Each chapter begins with an illustration to let readers know which sibling is narrating. The Great One tells about her brother losing a tooth and her phase of wanting to be known as Violet Rose. Jake explains what happened the day he was a waiter when the first graders opened the "Breakfast Club" in their classroom and about the time a student took her dog to school and it ran off with Jake's stuffed elephant. The two siblings squabble but it is normal, harmless teasing, and when the chips are down they band together, as in the chapter about their run-in with the school bully. The family cat, Fluzzy, ends the book with a brief chapter of how he also would like a new name. Stevenson's trademark ink sketches add interest and humor to the stories. No new ground is broken here, but the topics are those to which early-elementary graders can relate.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
Jake and Abigail, Blume's ever-sparring siblings, return with six new stories filled with laughter, provocation and, most of all, affectionate loyalty. First-grader Jake's pressing issues include the loss of his first tooth, a fifth-grade bully and the near-demise of his bedtime stuffed elephant, always marked by an eagerness to appear all-knowing and grown-up. Third-grader Abigail, continually vexed by her brother, has concerns of her own: chasing boys and choosing an alternate name for herself. Blume is a master at mixing amusing and even outrageous twists into her depictions of everyday sibling and school matters, such as a real dog running wild through school on Bring Your (pretend) Pet Day. Each vignette will have readers and listeners predicting, groaning or chuckling as events unfold. Stevenson's lively black-and-white cartoon art enhance the short chapters, which epitomize the best in sibling relationships. For cat lovers who are wondering what Fluzzy is thinking, a seventh chapter tells all. (Fiction. 6-8)
From the Publisher
Review, The New York Times Book Review, May 11, 2008:
"Blume certainly knows her way around this age group . . . [and] James Stevenson's pen and wash drawings also provide balance, along with warmth and personality."
Read an Excerpt
The Pain has a loose tooth. He wiggles it all day long. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. You’d think it was the first loose tooth in the history of the world.
Today at the school bus stop he opened his mouth. “Look at this!” he called proudly. The tooth was hanging by a thread. I could have reminded him that by the time I was in first grade I’d already lost three teeth. But I didn’t. Instead, when we got on the school bus, I offered to finish the job for him. But he shut his mouth and shook his head.
“Okay . . . fine,” I told him. “But don’t come crying to me if you swallow it.”
Just as the bus pulled up to school, the Pain yelled, “Look . . . it fell out!” And he held up his tooth. Everyone cheered.
When we got off the bus, he tried to give it to me. “I don’t want your yucky tooth,” I told him.
“But I’ll lose it,” he cried.
“Not if you’re careful.”
“But I lose everything.”
“I’ll give you half of whatever the Tooth Fairy brings,” he said.
Hmmm . . . half of whatever the Tooth Fairy brings, I thought. Since it’s his first tooth, that could mean more loot than usual.
“Come on, Abigail . . .” the Pain said, shoving his tooth in my face.
“We split it fifty-fifty?” I asked.
“Is that half?”
“Yes,” I told him. “Exactly half.”
“Okay,” he said. “Deal.” We shook on it. Then I took his tooth. The Pain gave me a silly smile. He looked like a minidragon with that gap between his teeth. As soon as he walked away, I started to worry. What if I lose his tooth? Think how disappointed he’ll be.
All day at school I worried. During recess I wanted to jump rope with Kaylee. But I was too scared I’d lose the tooth. Kaylee told me to put it in my pocket.
“What if it falls out?” I asked.
“Give it to me,” she said. “I’ll hold it while you jump.”
In art class I drew pictures of teeth. At lunch I kept the tooth next to my sandwich as if it was a piece of candy. During science I checked it under the microscope. Ms. Valdez was impressed. She thought it was my tooth.
“It’s my brother’s,” I explained. “His first. And I’m responsible for it.” Ms. Valdez gave me an envelope. “Put it in here,” she said. I dropped the tooth inside. Ms. Valdez licked the flap and pressed it closed. Then I wrote on the front: The Pain’s Tooth. Handle With Care.
Finally, the school day ended. It was the longest school day in the history of the world. On the bus going home the Pain asked to have his tooth back. I was so glad to give him the envelope. Now my worries were over.
That night, after his bath, the Pain couldn’t find his tooth. He still had the envelope but it was empty. “I took care of your tooth all day at school!” I shouted. “I didn’t let it out of my sight for one minute. And now look–you lose everything!” “I told you, didn’t I?”
So we started looking. We looked everywhere. In his pockets. In his underwear. In his lunch box. Even in his ears, just in case. But there was no tooth. “Why did you open the envelope?” I asked. “Because Dylan wanted to see my tooth up close.”
“Well, maybe Dylan has your tooth,” I said.
“No, because he passed it to Justin.”
“Okay, let’s call Justin and see if he has it.”
“But after Justin I let Miranda hold it,” he told me. “And then Riley wanted to smell it.
“Stop!” I shouted, covering my ears. So he stopped.
“What’ll I put under my pillow?” he asked in a small voice. Any second now he was going to cry.
“A note to the Tooth Fairy,” I told him.
“Will she understand?”
“Maybe. But it will have to be a very good note.”
“You write it,” he said.
“Write it yourself. It’s not my problem.”
“Please,” he begged. “I’m only in first grade.”
Suddenly, I remembered that I get half of whatever he gets. “Okay, I’ll write it.”
“Make it good,” he said. So I wrote to the Tooth Fairy. I told her how the Greatest Sister in the History of the World watched over the Pain’s tooth all day. I told her if she didn’t believe the note she should look inside his mouth.
“Should I sleep with my mouth open so the Tooth Fairy can see?” the Pain asked.
“No,” I said. “The Tooth Fairy has X-ray vision.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I know everything.” I gave him one of my best looks. It’s so easy to make him believe me. Then I shoved the note at him. “Sign your name.”
“Not until you take out that line about the greatest sister in the history of the world.”
“But I am the greatest sister in the history of the world.”
“Who says?” he asked.
“Who says I’m not?”
“Abigail . . . Jake . . .” Mom called. “Time for bed.”
The Pain printed his name on the bottom of the note. He put it under his pillow. Fluzzy jumped onto his bed and curled up in a ball.
“Keep a lookout for the Tooth Fairy,” I told Fluzzy.
Fluzzy yawned. What does he care about Tooth Fairies?
In the morning the note to the Tooth Fairy was gone and the Pain found a new dollar bill under his pillow. I was hoping for more, but a deal’s a deal. So I reminded him, “Fifty-fifty.”
He grabbed a pair of scissors, and before I could stop him he cut the dollar bill down the middle.
“Fifty-fifty,” he sang, handing me half.
From the Hardcover edition.