The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School

( 1 )

Overview

On the first day back to school from summer vacation, John is the new kid. When the librarian asks him if the school is any different from his last one, he begins a wildly imaginative story about what it was like. What follows are hilarious scenarios—his old school bus was a safari jeep pulled by wild creatures, the school was a castle, and the lunch menu included worms! His imagination wins him the attention and awe of his librarian and peers, setting the tone for a compelling story about conquering the fears of...

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Overview

On the first day back to school from summer vacation, John is the new kid. When the librarian asks him if the school is any different from his last one, he begins a wildly imaginative story about what it was like. What follows are hilarious scenarios—his old school bus was a safari jeep pulled by wild creatures, the school was a castle, and the lunch menu included worms! His imagination wins him the attention and awe of his librarian and peers, setting the tone for a compelling story about conquering the fears of being a new kid, as well as the first-day jitters that many children experience.

Albert Lorenz’s over-the-top illustrations, reminiscent of the work of MAD magazine’s early artists, bring the story to life. Speech bubbles and side panels make reference to and define objects in the art (in the most humorous and irreverent way).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When the librarian asks a new student about his old school, John describes a place full of wild characters and even wilder adventures. Inside the castle-like building, teachers eat students, animals run rampant, history class involves a time machine, and the field trips are out of this world. Bordering each page are often hilarious “definitions” of items featured in Lorenz’s frenetic scenes (“School bus--A terror-filled nightmare on wheels.... Life only gets worse from here on out”), which are sprinkled with speech bubbles. There’s a dizzying amount of text and art on each spread--no shortage of fodder for readers whose tastes gravitate toward the strange and surreal. Ages 6-9. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Susan Borges
Do not be mistaken by the title of this graphic picture book. It is not a comforting, helpful, or informative story for young readers or children who are entering school for the first time. It is a detailed and irreverently humorous narrative told from the point of view of John, an upper elementary-aged boy, who is entering a new school. At Mrs. Dewey's urging, John recounts specific details of his old school such as a school lunch that includes creepy, crawly worms and a time machine. On each page of this unusual, imaginative, and edgy story are bizarre facts and far-fetched details about John's previous school. Each page contains a side bar chock full of factoids that are strange and off-color, and the illustrations on each page are extremely detailed. The outlandish characters have voice bubbles and expressions that convey meaning beyond the text, making this a book that some children may want to study carefully, while other readers may think it is difficult to follow. This is a unique picture book but is not likely to have a wide reaching appeal. Reviewer: Susan Borges
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—John, the new kid in school, is looking for an unexceptional environment because his old one was just the opposite. "My old school was really, really old. And kind of a hangout for ravens. It could be sorta messy." John's definitions of "Extraordinary facts" related to the various scenarios he describes are listed in glossary panels on the right-hand edges of the fantastical spreads. The pictures were created with watercolor, color pencil, pen-and-ink, and airbrush. Humanlike animals—"Anthropomorphism—The practice of thinking that your pet cat (or rat or rhino) has human qualities"—appear in the detailed visual feasts, which beg for inspection. Eerie surprises exist in the illustrations, and the glossary includes bathroom humor, outrageous comments on teachers, dark humor, and slang. The book's format adds to its appeal with varying fonts for the artwork, a consistent font for the story, and speech bubbles. An unusual picture book, for most libraries.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services Plano ISD, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810989603
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 125,221
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Lorenz has illustrated a number of bestselling books, including The Trojan Horse, Buried Blueprints, Metropolis, and House. He is a past president of the Society of Illustrators and has won numerous awards for his art. He lives in Floral Park, New York. Visit him online at www.albertlorenzstudio.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 13, 2010

    if you like your stories a little on the silly side...

    Have you ever been a new kid at a new school? It is the first day back at school, and Mrs. Dewey, the librarian, welcomes everyone, including the new kid John. She asks him to tell the others about his old school, and he has some imaginative stories. He rode to school in a safari jeep pulled by wild creatures. The school was in a castle guarded by lions. The lunch menu included creepy, crawly worms and bugs. And their field trip was to the moon. So he is looking for something more "ordinary." His creativity wins the admiration of the librarian and his classmates, but is John just making things up, or is he telling the truth?
    This wacky and hilariously irreverent story, with its humorous, over-the-top, art speaks to first-day-of-school anxieties and to being the new kid. Author and illustrator Albert Lorenz noticed that his grandchildren didn't jump up and down in excitement for school to start at the end of every summer, so he talked with school librarians and teachers to get to the bottom of what is extraordinary and ordinary about school today. Each scenario is complimented by speech bubbles and side panels that are filled with fun facts and observations which, if shared with classmates, will make one the coolest person on the bus, playground, or school floor. There is one interactive page where the reader is asked to look at the picture and find some famous people from our past. Some parents might want to know that there are a few childish euphemistic terms, such as "pee," "poop," and "fart," as well as references to picking noses and eating boogers. However, if you like your stories a little on the silly side, this book is for you.

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