When Puma bites Elephant's tail on the first day of school and then denies it, Teacher announces that there will be no biting in her classroom. Biting is bad behavior. Puma heads for the playground where he nips a few more tails. Monkey with the help of Guinea Pig comes up with a plan. The guilty one is caught, appears contrite, and is welcomed back by others in the class. Aside from addressing a very real behavior problem, and the resourcefulness of the kid victims, the solution is too pat and comes too easily. The book is useful as a discussion starter. It is part of the "Be Nice at School" series. 2001, Carolrhoda Books, $7.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-These titles address unacceptable behavior in the classroom. In Python! a young snake repeatedly squeezes her classmates too hard and is reprimanded after Weasel tells on her. Later, when the young animals make colorful clay snakes, Elephant mistakes Python, who is dressed in a multicolored sweater, for clay, and begins rolling and squeezing her on the table. This incident leads the reptile to realize that squeezing is unpleasant. The fact that the situation is resolved by duplicating the offensive behavior is troublesome, and the teacher jokes about it when Python's mother asks how her offspring got along with the other students. Puma! is flawed as well. A sneaky-looking puma is told by his teacher that "School's fun-.You'll get a taste for it soon." He literally does, biting the tails of Elephant, Rabbit, and Monkey. Weasel tells the teacher, but the problem is not resolved until the students devise a plan to trick Puma into getting caught. His sudden understanding of how he hurt his classmates is unconvincing. Both stories are accompanied by bright but flat color illustrations of childlike animals whose movements and expressions are so exaggerated they make harmful behavior and unpleasant situations look comical. Although these stories address legitimate behavior problems, they miss the mark.-Melinda Piehler, North Tonawan- da Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.