Prather's picks

I intended to review a book for adults this week, but then I came upon a timely picture book for young readers.

"No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher's Dirty Looks!" is written and illustrated by Diane deGroat. What a fun book to share with a youngster to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation. (I'll have the book back in the library tomorrow.)

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Gilbert is one of the students in Mrs. Byrd's first grade class. (Her name is quite appropriate since Mrs. Byrd is a penguin.) I can't decide what animal Gilbert is, but students in the class include a rabbit, duck, raccoon, owl and groundhog. It's the last day of school, and Gilbert has some cookies and a gift for Mrs. Byrd in his backpack. Mother will see him at school later for the end-of-school party. That's when the students recite poems and then receive awards.

At school, a banner reads, "1 day of school left." Empty boxes sit on a table where Mrs. Byrd is packing away some books.

The students begin their last day by cleaning out their desks. Mrs. Byrd empties out her desk, too. An amazing number of confiscated items spill out from the bottom drawer -- a "Space Pilots" comic, a yo-yo, some candy, a space doll and four packs of gum.

Next, the students practice reading the poems they'll recite during the program. But at recess, their minds are on the awards.

Everybody gets an award, but who will get what? Philip is the best reader, Frank is good at math, and Patty is best at spelling, but Gilbert wonders what he's good at.

When the children return to the classroom after recess, they're in for a surprise. It doesn't look the same anymore.

No more drawings hang on the walls. The books have been put away. The room is all cleaned up.

Mrs. Byrd is standing in the front of the room wearing a long coat, designed with fish, over her dress. The refreshment table is behind her. A decorated cake has "Good Luck in Grade 2" written on it.

Mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas, and brothers and sisters are waiting for the program to begin. When the students begin to recite, Gilbert does something very unexpected. I like this book a lot because the teacher makes each student feel special. It also captures the emotions of leaving school at the end of the term. Diane deGroat has illustrated more than one hundred books, nine of which are her own. Her books are all about Gilbert and include titles such as: "Jingle Bells, Homework Smells"; "Roses Are Pink: Your Feet Really Stink"(a national bestseller); and "Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books" (which sounds like a back-to-school title).

This week's book, for ages 4 to 8, is published by HarperCollins Publishers (2006) and costs $15.99 in hardcover. ISBN 10: 0-06-079114-4

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