cover image DON'T EAT THE TEACHER!


Nick Ward, . . Scholastic/ Cartwheel, $9.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-37465-1

"When Sammy became too excited, he had the unfortunate habit (as all young sharks do) of biting things." Hence, the admonition in British author Ward's cheeky title. Can Sammy, who is otherwise a cute, eager fellow, curb his enthusiasm so that the entire school doesn't end up as shark bait? The answer, as Ward gleefully chronicles in buoyant, brightly colored cartoons, is no. Sammy eats his school friend (but spits him right out), the circle time book, his art project and, yes, finally, the lobster teacher (who might be guilty of provoking the behavior by saying things like "Here's a story we can really sink our teeth into" and "Now you are a storm.... A terrible storm destroying everything in its path"). However, everyone seems to take Sammy's behavior in stride—in fact, the pupil confidently takes to school like, well, a fish to water. The story feels somewhat slight and rushed, and there are no repercussions for the protagonist, who has indeed digested his teacher. But nervous first-time schoolgoers should appreciate (and chime in on) the succession of punch lines. Observant readers will spot plenty of visual jokes as well. In Sammy's house, a mouse wears snorkeling gear; in the classroom, a display labeled "Interesting things we have found" showcases various human flotsam, including a set of false teeth and a toupee. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)