Joe and Sparky Go to School
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
List Price: $15.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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The endearing and mismatched pals accidentally latch onto a big yellow bus and leave the cageless zoo for their first trip to school.
Sparky the turtle may be cautious, but when the strange vehicle full of noisy short people pulls away from Safari World, he finds himself stuck on the bus’s roof just the same. Luckily his giraffe friend, Joe, is adventurous enough to take a running jump, too! When they arrive at school, they discover that there’s a lot to learn, like the fact that the restroom is full of little magic "ponds," that you’re supposed to count the peas, not eat them, and that the goal of the day seems to be to get a star. But just when Joe fears that he may have to go home starless, Sparky reminds him of all the ways that his loyal friend already shines. Readers will roll over laughing — and find lots to relate to — in this hilarious new adventure.
Frank Remkiewicz illustrated the MathStart Books Rabbit's Pajama Party and Just Enough Carrots. He lives in Sarasota, FL. In His Own Words...
"I was the kind of kid who was always reading or drawing. Since I was drawing well before I started school, I always considered art to have seniority over the likes of long division and medieval history. This attitude got me into difficulties more than once. My favorite subjects were horses, cartoons, wildlife, and contraptions that rolled, floated, tooted, or flew. My heroes of the day were illustrators like Bill Peet, Robert Lawson, and Kurt Weiss. They provided me with a screenful of imagery that I'll never forget.
"Winter in kindergarten found us all painting Santas at our tables. Mine came out so good that I was asked to do it over again on a huge piece of brown paper that covered the chalkboard. Santa would be bigger than me. I was excused from the regular stuff, given larger brushes, more paint-and sure enough, here came Santa. This was only the beginning. Other teachers, seeing the mural-sized figure, 'borrowed' me to do the same for first- and second-grade classrooms. Flattered but somewhat embarrassed, I took heart, since these gigs were getting me out of a lot of tedious activities like nap time, scissors, yarn, and flash cards. 'All I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten' may be true. Twenty years later I found myself on Madison Avenue at Norcross Greeting Cards-yes, drawing Santa Claus.
"I've always been drawn to the field of humor. Since I'm writing and illustrating my own stories now, I try to make them funny in an outrageous or off-the-wall way. During classroom presentations, I again find myself by the chalkboard in front of the kids. Now we are seeking ways to write and draw those ideas that squeeze their way through the everyday chores of our minds. It's a thrill to watch my own book being read by a group of children, and I like it when they smile. But I love it when they laugh."
Written in four accessible chapters, this book is perfect for the newly independent reader and makes a fine bridge from Amelia Bedelia to Ramona. Limited but lively vocabulary, a large font, and carefully placed illustrations—all in a humorous, high-interest package—will make this a hit.
—The Horn Book (starred review)