Review Detail

Kids Fiction 919
Not Your Average School Book
(Updated: July 10, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
After they have each had a rough day, Frank the boy and Lucky the dog find each other at the animal shelter. From that moment on, they are inseparable. Through their adventures together, they learn various subjects traditionally taught in schools. They learn botany and entomology when they explore outside. They learn fractions and percentages when they share a bed at night. They learn geography when Lucky runs off and Frank must find him. Their real life lessons demonstrate that the various subjects are fundamentally interrelated, and readers realize that “Everything had a lot of everything else in it.”

Perkins’ images are bright and sweet, and children will enjoy the speech and thought bubbles throughout the book. Lucky’s thoughts are particularly humorous, and his relationship with the cat is especially funny.

The main question I have about the book is about the intended audience. If this is a book for young children, the primary purpose seems to be to use practical examples to explain what traditional school subjects are (“Geography is about our home, the Earth”; “Math is puzzles. Math is how much and how many”). However, an additional purpose seems to be demonstrating that schools are not the only place where learning occurs, that play and everyday tasks can provide ample opportunities for educational growth. I agree wholeheartedly with this premise, but this strikes me as a primarily adult concern, and so I am left wondering, “Who is this book for?” Children tend to be less interested in knowing whether they’re busy learning math or history or science as they play than in simply playing.

That said, this tension between the book’s presumed audience and its pedagogical implications could provide some fruitful class discussions with early elementary children, particularly in schools or home school settings that have a play or place-based learning philosophy. Dog-lovers will appreciate Frank and Lucky’s growing relationship as it encompasses all areas of life.
Good Points
Sweet relationship between a boy and his dog.

Simple and relevant explanations of subjects traditionally taught in school.
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