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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins. Greenwillow Books, Harper. 2016. $21.99 ages 5 and up

"Both of them were just pups. They had a lot to learn. First they learned about each other. Then it was time to learn about other things. So off they went to school. Lucky went to his school ten times. Frank went to his school thousands of times ... "

I have a son. He has two English bulldogs. They are perfect for each other. Together, they have learned a lot. Their similarity to Frank and Lucky ends there. Percy and Ed don't learn a lot from outdoor exploration; they prefer home and hearth. They have not experienced the many scenarios which lead both Lucky and Frank to new learning; they are content with that. But, they are loved and have learned to love. Isn't that the most important thing of all?

Now, I want to introduce you to a young red-headed boy and his curious and active black pup. When they meet, they are both coming to the end of an awful day. Lynne Rae Perkins lets us know so, beginning on the copyright page. She draws a series of panels depicting the many accidents and annoying events in Frank's day. Life has not been kind. A turn of the page adds panels that may, in fact, change his perception of the day itself. We also see the kind of day Lucky has experienced and how he came to be at the very shelter Frank's parents choose for a new dog for their son.

"One day when Frank could not win for losing, he got Lucky.
And one day when Lucky was lost and found, he got Frank."

The story from there shows just how perfect a picture book can be. Together, they learn about each other and about their world - the Science, the Reading, the Math, the History, the Art, the Geography, the Foreign Languages, and even an alternate fact or two.

"Not so long ago, a dog named Lucky jumped up onto a chair and ate an entire birthday cake that was on the table. At least, the evidence suggests that's what happened. Sometimes in History there are different versions of what really happened, depending on who is telling the story."

Learning together is what makes these two happy, and what gives us a glorious book to share and then share again. Filled with numerous opportunities to take learning into the real world, and written with great skill and enthusiasm for such an education, Ms. Perkins fills her pages with subject matter that is sure to entice and entertain. Her watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork is filled with ever-changing perspectives, thought and speech balloons, maps, labels, thumbnail sketches, and a multitude of panels and full page spreads meant to draw attention to all that is happening in this full of heart story of a boy and his dog.

One of my favorite scenarios is the math that is nighttime, when Lucky and Frank share space on the same bed. I wish I could show it to you. I guess you will just have to head to the library or your favorite local bookstore to get yourself a copy.

"When it's nighttime, how much of the bed is Lucky's, and how much is Frank's?
This is fractions and percentages. The answer changes throughout the night."

Innocent curiosity, clever writing, gentle love, humor, useful facts, and the discovery of and wonder at the world we live in make this an in-demand book at home and in the classroom. It definitely ups my admiration for Ms. Perkins' writing. I have not missed one of her books yet, and I don't think you should miss this one!                                                                               

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