cover image The Perfect School Picture

The Perfect School Picture

Deborah Diesen, illus. by Dan Santat. Abrams, $4.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3509-7

In a picture book based on the school photos almost every child has endured, Diesen (the Pout-Pout Fish series) focuses on a boy who plots to ruin his school picture. He wakes up with bed head, which Santat (The Princess and the Pit Stop) captures with faux-Polaroid mug shots of the boy’s hair sticking up like a wave. He rummages for his favorite shirt—“You might call it ‘stained.’ You might call it ‘wrinkled.’ You might even call it ‘smelly.’ You wouldn’t be wrong”—and then has a close encounter with some maple syrup. School offers a paint-splattered art assignment; Santat imagines a project that combines birdhouses and macaroni. But when the picture-taking moment arrives, things don’t go quite the way the narrator has planned. The narrator’s over-the-top voice makes reading aloud a must (“Wasted! Useless! Ruined...”) as Diesen portrays a boy who’s honing his mischief-making skills. Santat’s digital artwork chronicles the child’s emotional ride, from simmering rage to fiendish calculation to impatient exasperation. It’s high-energy comedy that involves only minor destruction. The small paperback includes a bound-in cardboard picture frame. Ages 5–7. [em](July) [/em]