The Washington Post
The Dunderheadsby Paul Fleischman, David (ILT) Roberts
Miss Breakbone hates kids. Especially the time-squandering, mindwandering, doodling, dozing dunderheads in her class. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s crucial fi nd, she fi nally goes too far. Enter/b>
Dunderheads, unite! A tyrannical teacher gets her just due in a delightfully subversive, outrageously funny tale by Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleischman.
Miss Breakbone hates kids. Especially the time-squandering, mindwandering, doodling, dozing dunderheads in her class. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s crucial fi nd, she fi nally goes too far. Enter Wheels (and his souped-up bike with forty-eight extra gears), Pencil (who can draw anything from memory), Spider (look up and you’ll fi nd him), and their fellow misfi ts in a spectacular display of teamwork aimed at teaching Miss Breakbone a lesson she won’t soon forget. From the incomparable Paul Fleischman comes a winning cast of underdogs — and one of the most terrifying teachers you’ll ever meet — brought to vivid life in David Roberts’s quirky, hilarious illustrations.
The Washington Post
The fiendish Miss Breakbone-a teacher with her own electric chair and a subscription to Guard Dog Lovers Monthly-is no match for her students, once they put their heads together. They have no choice: Miss Breakbone has insulted them ("doodling, dozing, don't-knowing dunderheads!"), confiscated a cat figurine that Junkyard was saving for his mother's birthday and then dared them to retaliate. Einstein, the genius hero, marshals his classmates' skills (hypnotism, spitballs, perfect knowledge of movie plots) and pulls off the perfect break-in. Action and zaniness animate every page of this picture book/early reader hybrid, but the story's real virtue is Newbery winner Fleischman's (Joyful Noise) appreciation for kids whose loser exteriors hide unexpected talent (each gets an apt nickname). "I nodded to Clips," Einstein says about the kid whose creations help them enter Miss Breakbone's lair. "His reading scores were low. His math scores were worse. But if they tested for paper-clip chains..." Roberts's (The Dumpster Diver) drawings, with their delicate lines and sly cultural references (Miss Breakbone looks like a cold war-era prison guard), convey just the right note of dastardly charm. Schoolchildren will adore this story of pupil revenge. Ages 6-10. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As long as children must endure the whims of tyrannical teachers, there will be an appreciative audience for a book such as this. Miss Breakbone suffers no fools; she refers to her class as "fiddling, twiddling, time-squandering...dunderheads!" Her militaristic form is capped by severe red hair and a menacing mouth; the latter is wide open and shrieking insults on the first page. Her alligator purse, warden-style key ring, and electric chair offer further inklings into her psyche. She makes Viola Swamp look like Glenda the Good Witch. When she confiscates Junkyard's latest find and makes him cry, the class reaches the tipping point. They devise elaborate plans to retrieve the treasure from the teacher's fortresslike home. The talents of the children in this diverse group are foreshadowed by their nicknames, e.g., Spider, Spitball, Google-Eyes, and Hollywood. Together, the Dunderheads are a formidable force, and Roberts's quirky watercolor and ink interpretations of Fleischman's deadpan humor and impeccable pacing produce hilarious results. The compositions are a pleasing mixture of busy scenes, with funny or important details rendered via judicious touches of color, gray washes, and black line work and ample white space. The spreads are sometimes defined by "panels," whose straight and curved lines form unexpected shapes and add another element of excitement to the dynamic diagonals and extreme perspectives. This book will raise an adult eyebrow or two, but young readers will relish each solution in this satisfying celebration of multiple intelligences, teamwork, and kid power.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Meet the Author
Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES and a Newbery Honor for GRAVEN IMAGES. Among his award-winning picture books are SIDEWALK CIRCUS, THE ANIMAL HEDGE, and WESTLANDIA. He lives in Aromas, California.
David Roberts is the author-illustrator of the Bertie books and the illustrator of many books for children, including THE DUMPSTER DIVER by Janet S. Wong. He lives in London.
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Great characters, clever, can't wait for more stories about these school yard misfits whose flawed character traits are treasures within their social circle.