Facebook Twitter



I KNOW WHAT YOU DO WHEN I GO TO SCHOOL by Ann Cannon, illustrated by Jennifer Mazzucco. Gibbs Smith Publishers, $14.95.

"What happens at home when I am away at school?"Sometimes kindergartners and even first-graders pose this question aloud or in daydreams. They imagine the events they are missing are much more exciting than those in the classroom. This is particularly true of students who have new babies in the family or siblings that "get in their stuff."

Ann Cannon has captured this scenario through Howie, a young student who imagines the fun at home and resents being left out. In the classroom, he is feeding the monarch caterpillar, counting marbles for math solutions and doing the crab walk across the gym floor, but he knows that Wally and Mom are sliding down the clothes chute, making humongous forts out of sheets and digging up dinosaur bones in the back yard.

Cannon has delighted us for years with humorous essays involving real-life home and family. My favorites are her "home-grown" disasters-handled-with-love. I've enjoyed her honesty from the "I won't be rattled!" mothers' perspective as well as from that of the child (usually her own sons are the focal point). As readers, we know the mother's distress at ink on the carpet, vomit in the back seat and haircuts made with the kitchen scissors, but she never patronizes the child or makes the parent a martyr. These are straight-forward and honest anecdotes reminding us all not to take life so seriously.

Cannon has done the same in "I Know What You Do When I Go to School." This is a wonderful book for "getting ready for school" when children aren't prepared to leave a sibling home to claim all the attention. In fact, it's a great book for all children who need to be reminded that school is probably where most of the best action is anyway.

This is Mazzucco's first book, and her stylistic art attempts to capture the humor of Cannon's text with twists and turns of every imaginable color and nature. In this case, however, a picture is not worth a thousand words. Puddles of brightness - such as symbolistic wall hangings and rooftops that swirl like crowns of yogurt cones - distract from the story. When I shared this book with a 4-year-old, she protested that it is not the overabundance of popcorn that causes mother and Wally to climb out the window but soap suds spewing from the bottom of the page.

The text could stand alone. But even if the illustrations overpower the text at some points, "I Know What You Do When I Go to School" is a good read-aloud and a must for getting ready for the first week of class.

- ANN CANNON will be reading and signing copies of "I Know What You Do When I Go to School" at the King's English Bookstore, Friday, Aug. 9, at a special pajama party from 7-8 p.m. This book will also be featured on Ch. 2's "Good Morning Utah" Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 6:15 a.m.