Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Didn't Do My Homework Because...

Ah, the homework excuses. I never used them myself because I was too chicken to show up at school empty handed. In my very brief teaching career--one semester--I did hear quite a few from my students, though. None, however, as inventive as the ones the boy narrator of this book lays on his teacher. Starting with "an airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard" and ending with "a tornado swept up all my books," the boy's outlandish tales are cleverly illustrated by Benjamin Chaud (The Bear's Song). Madcap and detailed, each pen-and-ink illustration is worthy of being pored over to fully appreciate the humor. The illustration for "our roof suddenly disappeared" shows a wrecking ball (maneuvered by the family dog) knocking off the roof with the startled people inside gazing up and the homework pages blowing away. While many of the excuses are satisfyingly dramatic--"giant lizards invaded my neighborhood"--others are understated and depend on the art for the full effect. My favorite of these is: "We had a problem with carnivorous plants." The accompanying illustration shows a giant-size Venus flytrap with its devouring leaves clamped over the heads of the boy, his father, and the dog.

Essentially an extended list, this picture book/easy reader has a satisfying twist at the end after the boy gives this last explanation to his teacher. She doesn't believe any of them, naturally, but why she doesn't is sure to have young readers chuckling--and perhaps plotting which excuse they might use!

I Didn't Do My Homework Because…
By David Cali
Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Chronical Books, 44 pages
Published: March 2014