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Mark Teague is the award-winning children's book author and illustrator of his own bestselling Dear Mrs. LaRue series, as well as The Sky Is Falling, The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf, The Tree House That Jack Built by Bonnie Verburg, and many other humorous picture books. In addition to his prized art for the How Do Dinosaurs . . . series, his illustrated novel, The Doom Machine, received excellent reviews. Mark lives in the Hudson River Valley with his wife and their two daughters.
Teague's skewed sense of humor is unleashed once again in this droll tale of two fellows having trouble getting to school on time. Wendell and Floyd's excuses sound perfectly plausible to them‘alien invasions, pirates in the neighborhood, a plague of frogs‘but their teacher, Ms. Gernsblatt, is having none of it and issues an ultimatum. Determined to be punctual, they leave at the crack of dawn and take a shortcut. Alas, suburban backyards quickly give way to jungle, and the boys are in for the adventure of their lives. Like William Joyce, Teague (Pigsty; The Iguana Brothers) has a knack for visualizing that privileged realm of childhood where imagination and reality collide, and for sending it up through broad exaggeration. His color-saturated acrylics, verging on the satirical, aim straight for the funnybone (Wendell and Floyd picking their way through the plague of frogs, for instance). The combination of deadpan text and unbridled art is a sure-fire recipe for a crowd-pleaser. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
K-Gr 2-Teague, the author/illustrator of Pigsty (1994) and Moog-Moog Space Barber (1991, both Scholastic) has concocted yet another outrageous flight of fancy. In this adventure, try as they might, Wendell and Floyd cannot seem to make it to school on time. First they are captured by space creatures; then they encounter pirates and a plague of frogs. Finally, they try a shortcut, only to be distracted by quicksand swamps and sleeping crocodiles. While the conclusion lacks the punch promised by the build-up, children will identify with the daily struggle and will be entertained by the artist's dizzying perspectives and swirling brush strokes. His decorative sense and ability to create backgrounds and foregrounds that pulse with motion make this a promising candidate for a back-to-school story time on excuses-pair it with appropriate Shel Silverstein poems. Teachers will appreciate the boys' interracial friendship; children will enjoy the silly situations.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA