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Late for School

Overview

Smitty is never late for school. Not when his shoes get stuck in a sea of thick, black tar. Not when the sky rains snowmen down on the city streets. Not when he uses his coat for a sail to catch a gale and is swallowed up by a whale. Or when he encounters a robot from Mars eating up cars... or a very, very hungry T-Rex! The surprise ending will delight young readers as they cheer on Smitty and his heroic efforts to beat the school bell.

A boy who has never been late...

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Overview

Smitty is never late for school. Not when his shoes get stuck in a sea of thick, black tar. Not when the sky rains snowmen down on the city streets. Not when he uses his coat for a sail to catch a gale and is swallowed up by a whale. Or when he encounters a robot from Mars eating up cars... or a very, very hungry T-Rex! The surprise ending will delight young readers as they cheer on Smitty and his heroic efforts to beat the school bell.

A boy who has never been late to school runs into some very strange obstacles as he hurries on his way, only to discover when he arrives that he is a day early.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Featuring a catchy cadence, Reiss's (How Murray Saved Christmas) rhyming tale and Austin's (The Horned Toad Prince) pleasingly exaggerated artwork introduce a fresh-faced narrator: "My name is Smitty. I come from the city And I live by one simple rule. I may not be smartest No athlete, no artist But I've never been late for school." The narrative gives way to kid-pleasing nonsense as absurd incidents conspire to threaten the student's perfect punctuality record. Snowmen wearing vintage aviator gear plummet from the sky; crossing a flooded Times Square in a makeshift boat, the boy is swallowed by a whale; he decides against boarding a bus on which "all of the riders Were poisonous spiders"; he then gets snagged by a "gigantic ape" climbing the Empire State Building. Austin's wild and wily airbrushed illustrations make use of electric hues and skewed perspectives; large scale views present the earnest, wide-eyed hero manifesting an array of entertaining facial expressions. A surprise ending complete with graphic details wraps up this satisfyingly silly caper. Ages 6-10. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Smitty assures us that he is "never been late for school." So we follow his witty versified tale of woe from his late waking, as he loses his shoes in sticky tar, is hit by falling snowmen (!), sails on his backpack through a flooded Times Square, is swallowed by a whale, refuses a bus ride with a green ghoul, evades an ape escaped from the Central Park Zoo along with a robot from Mars, a walking T. Rex skeleton, and a "humungous bird," only to find that it is Sunday. Exhausted from his mad dash, he decides to stay and rest there. He falls asleep, which is why he is late for school on Monday, or so his story goes. Austin uses an airbrush to create the action-packed naturalistic double-page scenes, which not only illustrate the verses but also add immeasurably to the emotional content. Each picture's point of view produces a sense of melodrama, while exaggerated events and overstated characters increase the reader responses, including shivers at the huge gorilla and the drooling T. Rex. The New York City setting adds a touch of realism to the wild events. 2003, Peachtree Publishers,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-"My name is Smitty./I come from the city/And I live by one simple rule./I may not be smartest-/No athlete, no artist-/But I've never been late for school." On this particular day, however, the youngster faces a variety of obstacles as he races through New York City on his way to class. Reiss concocts a series of potentially hilarious hurdles-snow and floods, a ghoulish bus driver, a giant robot, a T. rex skeleton dripping with drool, and more. Unfortunately, Smitty's heroics are underwhelmed by the plodding rhymed text. With a few exceptions ("He gobbled up Hyundais/Like butterscotch sundaes"), the rhymes are facile. Austin's airbrushed acrylic illustrations are painted from off-kilter, cinematic angles, forcing readers to tilt their heads back and forth with each page turn. While imaginative and painstakingly detailed, the paintings' hyperrealism and Smitty's grotesque facial contortions come off as creepy and unappealing. The book's familiar theme, bizarre look, and predictable text might attract hi-lo readers, but it's a marginal purchase.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the fine tradition of John Burningham's John Patrick Norman McHennessy, The Boy Who Was Always Late (1988), a New York lad overcomes-or so he claims-all sorts of unusual obstacles to get to school, from a flood in Times Square to a Hyundai-eating robot from Mars. With photorealistic precision, Austin depicts an exaggeratedly panicked young scholar from a variety of canted and slanted points of view as he runs, flies, sails, and flails his way down city streets, and is last seen, soaked and shoeless, making his excuses to an understandably skeptical-looking teacher. Reiss lays out those excuses in breathless, if sometimes forced, verse-"I woke up at eight / In a terrible state / Sure that I'd missed my carpool"-that creates an appropriately rollicking beat. Children tardy and timely alike will laugh at this droll recitation. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561454914
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 269,624
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss is a former head writer for The Simpsons, a show for which he has won four Emmy awards. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he served as president of The Harvard Lampoon, and currently lives in Los Angeles, California. His other books for children include How Murray Saved Christmas, Santa Claustrophobia, and The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln, all illustrated by David Catrow.

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