Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Dunderheads

Booklist (June 1, 2009 (Vol. 105, No. 19))
Grades 3-5. Browbeaten by one of the more frightful teachers imaginable (among other deterrents, she keeps an electric chair in the classroom), a group of misfits endeavor to stage a mini-coup in this outlandish older-reader picture book. As the mastermind narrator notes, if Miss Breakbone’s first mistake was calling them all “fiddling, twiddling, time-squandering, mind-wandering, doodling, dozing, don’t-knowing dunderheads,” her second mistake was having appreciation for each of their unique talents. And talented they are, as each kid in the class contributes his or her specialized skills to sneak into her heavily fortified lair and recapture a trinket she’d grifted off of a boy nicknamed Junkyard. Pencil lays out the blueprints, Spider and Clips get the kids over the wall, and Google-Eyes hypnotizes their way past the guard dogs. You can almost hear the Pink Panther theme thrumming in the background. Roberts’ illustrations match Fleischman’s quirky tale tone-for-tone, drafting each kid in a signature style and breaking up page compositions to bring some pizazz to the caper. A fun, stick-it-to-teacher romp with no redeeming message, but cleverness in spades

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