From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—In 18 verses and whimsical pictures, the behavior of children is likened to that of animals as hunger transforms them into ravenous beasts, a new girl is turned into a mouse lost in a maze of hallways, and the final bell sets off a stampede of thundering elephants. In "Here, Boy," for example, a hungry youngster becomes a dog racing to get his food in the cafeteria: "Lunch bell starts ringing,/down the hallway I bound./I'm a dog who's just heard/the can-opener sound." The cartoon illustration depicts him with floppy ears, a collar round his neck, and his long belt looped behind him like a leash. These child-friendly verses may induce a wry chuckle or two, but overall, they're not memorable. Salerno has a great sense of composition, but his busy illustrations often distract from the simple imagery. Stick with stronger collections of school poetry, such as Jack Prelutsky's What a Day It Was at School! (HarperCollins, 2006).—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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No need to visit the zoo to see animals, young scholars—just look at your classmates. From the buzzing “bees” swarming over the playground to the starving pre-lunch “bear” with the rumbling tummy and the “blazing / cardinal, / winging / away” from the rumor of a crush, school is well populated with wild creatures. Salas captures 18 of them in very short, first-person rhymes, and like fugitives from The Island of Dr. Moreau, the children in Salerno’s supple, loosely drawn cartoon illustrations sport an array of evocative animal ears, tails, patterned clothes, and altered facial features. The wild verses are positively shot through with simile and metaphor, and young readers will run just as rampant, flocking to these pitch-perfect portrayals of their peers and selves. Grades 1-3. --John Peters
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