Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Teague's skewed sense of humor is unleashed once again in this droll tale of two fellows having trouble getting to school on time. Wendell and Floyd's excuses sound perfectly plausible to themalien invasions, pirates in the neighborhood, a plague of frogsbut their teacher, Ms. Gernsblatt, is having none of it and issues an ultimatum. Determined to be punctual, they leave at the crack of dawn and take a shortcut. Alas, suburban backyards quickly give way to jungle, and the boys are in for the adventure of their lives. Like William Joyce, Teague (Pigsty; The Iguana Brothers) has a knack for visualizing that privileged realm of childhood where imagination and reality collide, and for sending it up through broad exaggeration. His color-saturated acrylics, verging on the satirical, aim straight for the funnybone (Wendell and Floyd picking their way through the plague of frogs, for instance). The combination of deadpan text and unbridled art is a sure-fire recipe for a crowd-pleaser. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Teague, the author/illustrator of Pigsty (1994) and Moog-Moog Space Barber (1991, both Scholastic) has concocted yet another outrageous flight of fancy. In this adventure, try as they might, Wendell and Floyd cannot seem to make it to school on time. First they are captured by space creatures; then they encounter pirates and a plague of frogs. Finally, they try a shortcut, only to be distracted by quicksand swamps and sleeping crocodiles. While the conclusion lacks the punch promised by the build-up, children will identify with the daily struggle and will be entertained by the artist's dizzying perspectives and swirling brush strokes. His decorative sense and ability to create backgrounds and foregrounds that pulse with motion make this a promising candidate for a back-to-school story time on excuses-pair it with appropriate Shel Silverstein poems. Teachers will appreciate the boys' interracial friendship; children will enjoy the silly situations.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Teague (who illustrated Audrey Wood's The Flying Dragon Room, p. 75) takes the sidelong view of life in this story about Wendell and Floyd, who are chronically late for school. One day it's space creatures that nearly abduct them, on another it's pirates in the neighborhood, and on another it's a plague of frogs that slows their progress schoolward. Their teacher is not amused. "Absurd! I'm warning yoube here on time tomorrowor else! And no more crazy excuses!" Next day, up at the crack of dawn, determined not to let Ms. Gernsblatt down, Wendell recommends a secret shortcut. That shortcut seems to occupy a parallel dimension, one of rain forests and jungle animals, trailing vines and giant mud puddles. Finally, in the distance, they hear the school bell, and, running toward the noise, make it to their seats in the nick of time.
This is an invigorating massage to the imagination, luxuriantly set in Teague's tactile acrylic illustrations, dreamlike items painted from worm's- and bird's-eye angles. Readers who have found themselves tardy and lacking suitable excuses will prize the brio of Wendell and Floyd.