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Monday, March 9, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2015. $15.99 ages 6 and up

"And then -out of nowhere -
a massive ape appeared and
mistook the school bus for a

So I hopped on my skateboard,
and then was seized by some
mysterious mole people.

"So, is that why you're late?"

I don't know if you met this young man in Davide Cali's most enjoyable I Didn't Do My Homework Because ... (2014). If not, I hope that you will enjoy his many excuses for not being on time for school. I suspect that you will enjoy it as much as I did. It was great hit when I visited school classrooms in February!

Anyway ... he's making a return visit, and this time he is doing his best to explain to his perplexed and demanding teacher the reason (or many reasons) for not making it to school on time. The story is, of course, a long one that begins at the breakfast table where 'giant ants stole my breakfast.' That tiny detail leads to a host of complicated excuses that he hopes she will believe.

You will be astonished by his neighbors' antics, the evil ninjas, the scary majorettes. The list does go on, and on, and on. Each new scenario will have young readers guffawing at the crazy and implausible situations he describes. The teacher occasionally gets a word, or words, in edgewise. They are a repeated refrain:

"So, is that why you're late?"

Each time the answer is no, and he regales her with ever more complex and convoluted reasons. He wanders in and out of fairy tales, assists a farmer in sorting out his livestock and even flies the president's private plane! As you would expect, the teacher is skeptical of every excuse given; in the end, the boy gets the last laugh and readers will be completely satisfied. The artist has a surprise in store, as he has had on every single page until the end. This final one is testament to the truth telling that has been going on throughout the morning's conversation.

Close the book, and your listeners are sure to be anxious to try their hand at creating some of their own excuses.

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