By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
French classic about misbehaving schoolboys.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is a book that glories in schoolboy misbehavior and plays it for laughs: playing hooky, making messes, fighting, and generally driving adults crazy, though the adults don't behave much better.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of schoolyard fighting, bloody noses, etc. Parents slap children.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two boys smoke a cigar and get sick. A father smokes a pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a book finds its humor in schoolboy misbehavior, including playing hooky, fighting, and smoking a cigar. The incorrigible boys are usually punished one way or another, but this has little effect on their behavior.
Where to Read
Based on 2 parent reviews
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Very funny in context
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What's the Story?
In nineteen related short stories, Nicholas and his friends, French schoolboys in an all-boys school, innocently and with great good humor and energy destroy everything they get near. They drive their teachers and parents nuts, flummox a school inspector, play hooky, smoke a cigar, play soccer without a ball, destroy a school play, deal with report cards, and much more.
Is It Any Good?
A bestseller in France since 1959, this uproarious translation is a time warp to a kind of children's book you don't see much anymore. Rene Goscinny, author of the Asterix series, imbues his short, funny stories with no deeper meaning, no character development, and above all, no life lessons. All of the characters are badly behaved but oddly charming. These manage to amuse without resorting to the vulgarity relied upon by so many modern authors.
Filled with tiny cartoons by New Yorker artist Jean-Jacques Sempe that perfectly match the text, this will keep many children amused for hours, though the more worldly may find it tepid. It is tepid, but that can be a virtue. If you're looking for a bedtime read-aloud that will get your kids giggling without getting them too riled up, you could hardly do better.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how much of the humor also comes from Nicholas not really understanding what's wrong with his behavior. Also worth some discussion is the difference between this depiction of school and child behavior in '50s France, and today's schools in America.
- Author: Rene Goscinny
- Illustrator: Jean-Jacques Sempe
- Genre: Humor
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Phaidon Press
- Publication date: September 5, 2005
- Number of pages: 126
- Last updated: August 31, 2015
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