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Friday, June 19, 2015

And Two Boys Booed, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2014. $19.50 ages 5 and up

"On the morning of the
talent show,
I was ready to sing my
And I wasn't a bit scared
because I had practiced a
billion times,
plus I was wearing my
lucky blue boots ... "

Take a favorite author, add an equally favorite illustrator and you get a smartly constructed case of stage fright. The young narrator is full of confidence and ready to take on the world when he awakens the morning of the class talent show. He has done everything he can to prepare: he practices at every conceivable opportunity, sings it time and again without error, and he is wearing his lucky blue boot and cool pocket pants. No worry!

Sitting down to wait his turn, he realizes he must follow in the footsteps of some very talented classmates.  Chloe is a poet, Henry is a gymnast, Georgia is an elegant ballerina, Leo can juggle and Madeline is a painter. Suddenly, it's his turn ... and there is a problem. Anxiety has set in. It even shows in his narration:

On the talent of the morning show,
I was ready to song my sing.
And maybe I was a little scared although I had practiced a billion times,
plus I was wearing my lucky blue pants and my boots with cool pockets.
There were no other kids left to go.
so I stood in class of our front.
I just stood there,
and then I sat down.
And then I got up.
And then I sat down."

Have you been there? Haven't we all? It is not an easy thing to do. In the end, he succeeds in singing his song, two boys boo and the rest of the class cheers. Ah, sweet success!

Judith Viorst tells her story in cumulative text, with characteristic humor and understanding. Sophie Blackall cleverly uses flaps and changes the way the boy looks to match the confusion he feels in telling his story. Keeping their eyes on the audience, astute observers are sure to see how the teacher handles little distractions and keeps the two impish, booing boys in check.

Keep this book in your repertoire for those days when an assembly performance is in the works!

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