By Vivian Vande Velde, Illustrated by Steve Björkman
Published by: Holiday House; Reprint edition (June 1, 2012)
Available in: paperback, NOOK
At the time of this review this was a standalone book.
8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos is a classic comedy of errors that builds in excitement and complexity while never losing its slapstick humor.
The book starts in the unique point of view of a squirrel who lives on the grounds of an elementary school. He’s funny and has some great points about the strange humans who go into the school. Within a few pages, the squirrel has a problem: a dog is chasing him. The squirrel escapes by finding refuge in the school.
Very quickly things literally get out of control. Throughout the dog-chasing-the-squirrel-through-school escapade, each chapter is in a new, different animal’s point of view. There’s a smart rabbit, a poetic parrot, a dizzy hamster, an aloof school of fish and more. The distinct voices bring an inherent humor with their personalities. It creates a vibrant, rich layer upon layer of plot, perspective and constant motion. All the while, the action is vaudeville-funny and slapstick-fast.
There’s also a little bit of math, which is a nice integration of study areas. The paragraphs and vocabulary can be a touch challenging, but the book is short. The illustrations are free and loose, a nice compliment to this active, physical and sly plot. The author had vision. And that’s a real treat.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….