cover image Butterflies in My Stomach: And Other School Hazards

Butterflies in My Stomach: And Other School Hazards

Serge Bloch, Author . Sterling $12.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-4027-4158-6

A nonstop barrage of idioms baffles a boy on the first day of school in this small-format book, best for its insouciant illustrations. On each page, the child hears a figure of speech (“My mother said I got up on the wrong side of the bed) and, as the illustrations show, he takes the words literally. Told he’d “be in a real pickle if we missed the bus,” for example, the boy envisions himself riding with other latecomers in a vehicle made of a pickle slice; this image, like the others, combines a photo with larkish pen-and-ink drawing, and Bloch (I Can’t Wait ) packs an outsize amount of comedy into each stroke of his pen. Adding minimal facial features, he imbues half a dozen bananas with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (the “top banana” preens above the wannabes). Although the boy’s feelings are on target—he fears school, misses his dog, dreads lunch but trades grins with the boy at the next desk—the one-note lines can grow thin; the book may be better browsed than read through. Ages 4–up. (Aug.)