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My Best Friend Is As Sharp As a Pencil: And Other Funny Classroom Portraits Hardcover – May 11, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—When a girl's grandmother comes to visit, she is filled with questions about the child's teachers, friends, and school. Instead of simply answering, the girl decides to show her grandmother what she likes about the important people in her life. She gathers up piles of objects and then sorts through them to find representative objects and collages them into portraits. The girl's friend Jack, who is geographically inclined and "sharp as a pencil," ends up having globes for eyes, magnifying glasses for glasses, a microscope nose, and a pencil mouth. Her art teacher has an artist's palette for a face, wears mysterious dark glasses, sports a colorful Mohawk, and wields a paintbrush. The layout encourages a guessing game of sorts as the audience will wonder how and where each object will be incorporated in the portrait. This book is ideal for projects involving descriptive language. Readers can create their own portraits of friends and teachers using various objects and this book as a guide. Use it with Piven's What Presidents Are Made of (2004), What Athletes Are Made of (2006, both S & S), and My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks (Randon, 2007) for classroom or crafting activities.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

This engaging book is similar to Piven’s My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and Other Funny Family Portraits (2007). Vibrant portraits in words and realia-collage illustrations, purportedly created by the child narrator in anticipation of her grandmother’s inevitable questions about school, will delight readers. One double-page spread gives each new character’s traits, expressed in several verbal metaphors (e.g., “as jumpy as a million rubber bands”) and in photos of objects (such as 8 colored rubber bands). On the next spread, a painting incorporating those objects forms an eye-catching, idiosyncratic portrait. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375853383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375853388
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It seems like children have already headed back to school this week in many states, though not here in Michigan. We start back after Labor Day so we can snatch those last few tourism dollars. Even still, we are still being hit with back to school fever, hitting the school supply sales for fifteen cents notebooks and quarter glue sticks. Hanoch Piven puts those school supplies to use in a whole new fashion, making up all sorts of funny classroom portraits.

The main character of this book, a little girl, grows a bit weary of her grandma's incessant questions about school. Instead of giving the same old boring answers, she decides to spice it up a bit with some unique homemade illustrations. She gathers up all sorts of supplies from around the house that exemplify the people in her life.

On each page, she answers one of her grandma's questions by describing who she will be illustrating by naming their characteristics and laying out the supplies she will be using. With a flip of a page, we see the assembled creation! We loved looking at the finished projects and noting where she used each piece. Magnifying glasses become eyeglasses, a handful of colored pencils are transformed into a wild hairstyle, and walnuts form a turtle shell.

This is the sort of book that strikes me as being incredibly clever. Kids can learn how to apply descriptive adjectives - happy as a balloon, graceful as a ballet slipper, etc, to the people in their own lives. Plus, there is a great use of color, so the outcome is a really happy, imaginative type of book. We loved it!

But when the author's previous book was "My Dog is as Smelly as Socks" - we knew to expect good things. Hanoch Piven has received countless portraits from classrooms all over the world that have been inspired by his collage portraits. His artwork has appeared in the New York times, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone.
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Format: Hardcover
Hanoch Piven's My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil and Other Funny Classroom Portraits tells how to project the image of a funny librarian, a friend who is jumpy as a rubber band, and more, using everything from marbles to balloons. Kids interested in classroom characters and connections between word descriptions and images will find this a powerful pick.
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Format: Hardcover
My kids adore all of this author's work and this new one is no exception! I bring them into school for read-alouds and the children of the class plead for me to bring them back next time. His style inspires my kids to create their own portraits by finding objects that they find inside and outside. Can't say enough! Love it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great for teaching similes and teaching children to incorporate figurative language into thier writing.It also has great images that can be used to promote oral language across many grade levels.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book to use for teaching students about similes in a very creative way. We made our own simile books based on this one for a holiday project.
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By Dani B. on April 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have both books in this series. My kids love listening to these stories when we are going over similes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a funny book and great for learning about what a simile is in a fun and entertaining way
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