cover image Tool School

Tool School

Joan Holub, illus. by James Dean. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-68520-7

Holub and Dean, the team behind Mighty Dads, hammer home a message of cooperation in a story about five tools that learn to work together. After each tool—a hammer, pair of pliers, saw, screw driver, and tape measure—introduces itself, it’s off to school, where their independent building projects don’t work out until they combine their skills. There’s nothing wrong with the premise or theme, but the story falls flat. Holub’s rhymes are often halfhearted and obvious (“Know what you need? It could save the day:/ Cooperation. Say it now, okay?”) with uneven rhythms, and Dean doesn’t capitalize on the excitement that tools and construction hold for many kids. With their small smiles, static poses, and half-lidded eyes, his dashed-off tools barely look like they’re awake, let alone engaged in what they’re doing. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (July)