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I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard Hardcover – June 9, 2015
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Will Rose ever earn a star on her teacher's blackboard? Mrs. Benson only seems to hand them out for achievements like spelling correctly, being neat, and raising one's hand to answer correctly. Rose, on the other hand, is a daydreamer who is more talented at wielding a paintbrush than at completing math problems and cleaning messy desks. It seems as if Rose will forever be starless until the surprising moment that Mrs. Benson congratulates her on a noteworthy artistic achievement: the best and biggest card for visiting artist Mr. Sullivan. Fortunately, she has just enough time afterward to draw her own star…and a special one for Mrs. Benson. Mann's stylized cartoons feature Mrs. Benson with thin, spindly legs and the kids with round misshapen heads. They perfectly suit the book's overall theme, which emphasizes the ultimate rewards for following one's own path as Rose does at the story's end. Any child with a special talent should appreciate Rose's struggles and enjoy the triumphant moment when she is rewarded for her efforts, both for an artistic masterpiece, and for finally cleaning up. For a similar story by this author/illustrator about an odd girl who is appreciated for her differences by an unlikely new friend, try Two Speckled Eggs, a worthy book about school friendships and acceptance. VERDICT A unique addition to school-themed picture book collections.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY
Mann, in her second book as both author and illustrator, works with assurance as she puts her jittery ink line and layered washes of color to work in the service of both emotional vulnerability and schoolroom slapstick without missing a beat.... Mann is well on her way to becoming a champion portrayer of those who color outside the lines or march to a different drum.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
There's considerable potential for classroom conversations here, particularly as students gather to talk about different strengths, and Rose's story will resonate with many an earnest artist trying to find his or her way onto the board.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Mann's ink, gouache, and digital collage illustrations play up the dichotomy between Rose, a pink-cheeked redhead with untied shoes, and Mrs. Benson, an older Caucasian woman with grayish hair in a bun...Readers will certainly empathize with Rose.
This warm, generous outing will appeal to children both with and without a polished sense of self.
A unique addition to school-themed picture book collections.
—School Library Journal
Large ink and gouache illustrations are reminiscent of Peter Reynolds' work with their childlike wavering lines and bright washes, capturing the endearing Rose's every emotion from despair to triumph...Mann conveys the yearning of a child for her teacher's approval and the magic that can happen when a wise teacher celebrates the uniqueness of each student.
—School Library Connection
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Aside from the well-done, non-trite story, the illustrations are bright and unique, like Rose herself.
Thanks Jennifer Mann for given kids like me (though it's four decades later) a voice.
Schoolteacher Mrs. Benson gives stars on the blackboard for spelling and math and right answers and neatness. Rose just KNOWS she’ll NEVER get a star because she can’t seem to give the right answers on anything. She likes to doodle, and her desk is always messy, too. Mrs. Benson doesn’t give stars for that.
One day, Mr. Sullivan comes to visit the class and he talks about being an artist. After his visit Rose thinks a lot about what he said, so much that she’s distracted and spills the class snack on Mrs. Benson! How can she ever get a star that way!
When Mrs. Benson announces she’s going to do a desk check for neatness, Rose’s heart sinks, but the next morning she cleans it the best she can. When her teacher gets each student to make a thank-you card for Mr. Sullivan, Rose’s artistic flair is released. What a mess, even worse than before! In fact, Mrs. Benson laughs because not only is Rose’s desk a mess, so is Rose! She is very impressed with the little girl’s artwork, though, and says that Rose is a true artist like Mr. Sullivan.
At the end of the day, Mrs. Benson calls Rose up to the blackboard. The little girl is worried, but then something wonderful happens.
Jennifer K. Mann‘s illustrations are fabulous in I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard. I wish I could share a couple of my favourites here for you, but since I can’t you’ll have to read this delightful book for yourself to see them. Jennifer pulls the reader right in with her combination of words and visuals. Her illustrations are uncomplicated and expressive – very enjoyable.
Sometimes in a classroom, there are children who have talents different from other children. In our story, Rose was a day dreamer. Rose was creative and artistic. She felt there were so many things she could not do well, until one day, the teacher gave her the praise she deserved for being artistic and creative.
The ending could not have been any better with Rose receiving a special star. You will enjoy seeing how Rose praises her teacher too. The reader can sense that the classroom setting may become a more friendly place for Rose.
This book has a great message for all of us: adults and children.
*I received this for review - all opinions are my own*