Monday, September 22, 2014

I Hate School - a book review

Quote of the day:

            "The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."  - St. Augustine

Featured book of the day:

Title:  I Hate School
Author:  Jeanne Willis
Illustrator:  Tony Ross
Ages:  4-8

Let's peek inside shall we?

Well as a child, the third girl and baby of the family,  I did NOT hate school.  I lived in a very small town and my Aunt Ethel was the prestigious Grade 5 teacher of our local elementary pubic school.  My oldest sister was attending her class and my second sister was at that school also in a lower grade.  I was not old enough yet to go and every bone in my body yearned to enter that mammoth educational building and soak everything in down to my toes.  I wanted to be just like my older sisters.

My Mom would get busy doing "motherly things", finally come up for air,  look around and find I was missing.  The phone would then ring and my sweet Aunt Ethel leaving  her classroom would call up my Mom and say, "Guess who just knocked on my classroom door and wanted to join the students of Grade 5?" My poor, embarassed Mom (but greatly relieved Mom) would say, "Thank goodness she is alright.  I've been looking all over for her.  I'll be right there to pick her up."  "I am so sorry she did that and disrupted your class." My adorable Aunt would laugh and say, "No worries, I gave her a big piece of paper, some crayons and her own desk and you know what?  She behaves better than some of the other big kids in the room."  "I'll keep her here with me until noon and she can walk home for lunch with her sisters."  I was five at the time and in my glory....I was going to school and in Grade 5!

We also had Vacation Bible School that was run for a few weeks in the summer in our little town. My older sisters both were registered to attend.  I, again of course, was too young to participate.  I could watch them have their morning sing songs, exercises and prayers because I was allowed to sit on my front lawn and look across the road and see them all in formation outside the local arena where they gathered before marching down the road,  right passed my house to the local town hall where they had crafts,  put on splendid plays and sang more boisterous Christian songs.  As they marched in front of my house in a long line, I would break away from my mom and run up beside my sisters and become part of the parade. I marched and sang out the songs at the top of my lungs acting just like I belonged to the troop.  The lovely Bible ladies were so kind and accepting and told my mom it was alright that I could come along as I behaved better than most of the other kids attending.  So you see?  I was born to go to school.  But Honor Brown?  Let's see how she reacts to her school experience......very different I think than me.....

About the book:

"There was a fine lady, and her name was Honor Brown,
She didn't want to go to school, she hoped it would burn down...
And why not, when her teacher is a warty toad, her classroom is a hole?
When what the dinner ladies feed them on is rabbit poo and coal?

Really?  This book written in rhyme is hilarious, witty and just plain entertaining.  Honor Brown with her wild, vivid imagination paints the worst scenario of going to school ever.  She insists that the water tray is full of killer sharks, food poisoning is on the horizon, beatings are the norm and even her friends are monstrous.  Such a drama queen extraodinaire!

But the kicker comes when it's time to move on to "Big School."  Her fountain of tears pour forth, turns into sobbing and then turns into dread.... OH NOOOOO....not the "Big School."  Her epiphany then?  Maybe her present school is not so bad after all.

The illustrations are done in ink and watercolour,  are quirky, fun and give the text a visual punch that will stay with the reader long after the book is closed.   I highly recommend this book.  I particularly loved the illustrations, they were amazing.

About the author:

Jeanne Willis wrote her first book aged five and has now written over eighty titles. She has won numerous awards, including the Children's Book Award, the Silver Smarties Prize and has been shortlisted for the Whitbread Award. As well as her extensive writing experience Jeanne once worked as a reptile vet’s assistant, has owned cats, a rat and a toad called Dave. She has never performed in an animal talent show but she did get married at London Zoo.
About the illustrator:

Tony Ross was born in London in 1938. He went to art school in Liverpool and has since worked as a typographer for design and advertising agencies. His cartoons have appeared in Punch, Town, Time and Tide and the News of the World. His first bookHugo and the Wicked Winter was published in 1972. Tony has since written over 100 books and illustrated over 2000! Two of his creations, Towser and The Little Princess have been turned into TV series. Tony lives in Wales.

Book Review Rating:  8 (Fantastic!)

Read on and read always!  May your day be amazing.

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