Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 1
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? According to the book flap, Núñez is a bestselling children’s author and Brasil has won a Jabuti Prize, Brazil’s highest award for children’s illustrations. The little boy telling the story does not want to go to school (at least the title is accurate) and proceeds to imagine in rhyming text, all the awfulness that awaits him there. Of course, in the end, he loves it and can’t wait to go back.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The stilted, rhyming text left me cold and promoted gender stereotypes (“Boys get in trouble at every suggestion. Girls know the answers to all of the questions.”) I was confused about the fact that the book was identified as Núñez’s first English-language picture book but made mention of a translator (Dave Morrison) on the back book flap. Perhaps a poor translation accounts for the flat writing? The illustrations reminded me of OSGEMEOS, the identical twin Brazilian street artist team, but the creepiness that works in their graffiti seems too, well, creepy for a picture book. In one sequence, the children are eaten by a monster school bus, sent through a giant yellow intestine and seem to be regurgitated in front of the school. Yuck.
To whom would you recommend this book? The classic First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a far better choice. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson is a more contemporary take on the same theme.
Who should buy this book? No one.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
October 18, 2018