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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bailey, written and illustrated by Harry Bliss. Scholastic, 2011. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Bailey is eager to get to school. Some of the other students are not. After the bus ride, Bailey hears the school bell. He gets to the entrance just in time. The principal is greeting all the students."

I have a Harry Bliss cartoon sent to my inbox every is almost always a 'bliss'ful way to start another day. In his new book about a scholarly mutt named Bailey, young readers have the opportunity to bask in the author's slightly skewed sense of humor.

Bailey loves school. Prior to departure, he grooms himself, selects his coolest collar, and grabs his backpack. Everyone else is on the bus, and Bailey is late. Once they are on their way his enthusiasm surges. The day seems next to normal as he is put through his paces from arrival until dismissal. A message from the principal suggests he keep his licking to himself, his teacher is impressed with his birthday gift for her but not for his what happened to his homework excuse. Seems eating paper is not good for him and a visit to the nurse is required. There, he gets advice about making better food choices.

Back in the classroom, he has a go at sharing time and math problems before lunch. Following lunch, he makes a presentation for history, and a bit of a mess in art class. Recess offers respite, and some great games. And then it's on to the final quarter of his day. Who knew he would be so helpful at gardening or singing in the chorus? A dance lesson and a chance to read before dismissal leads to a quick nap, a gentle wake-up call and a return home...slightly late for the bus again.

Not much removed from regular school fare, until you pore over the illustrations that accompany these seemingly simple events. Kids will laugh out loud at the many sight gags that Harry Bliss includes on every single page. A canine cannot talk; so his thoughts show in speech bubbles. Our first glimpse at his room show a bear-hugging-a-big-fish lamp; abundant books that are perfect fare for a reading dog; an old stick, a ball and a bone all in full sight. That's the first page! On we go and a close look will only add to your admiration for this school-loving, squirrel-chasing, teacher-impressing, most endearing pup!

Bailey is just too much fun!

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