A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the kids suffer no consequences for their rotten behavior. The story's slapstick quality and the sharply drawn, waggish illustrations keep a read-aloud audience's interest.
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Cause and effect gets spirited, comic treatment in this no-holds-barred romp. The cumulative story gathers energy as it steamrolls right through the poor old farm. Certain elements of the story are left curiously unresolved, though.
The children suffer no repercussions for their rotten behavior: They, and their teacher, simply hotfoot it from the farm, wreckage in their wake. Leaving Jimmy's boa constrictor could certainly be understood by some readers as abandonment, no matter how well the snake is subsequently treated. And the young narrator's blasé delivery of events to her mother is too uncaring, dampening the humor rather than heightening it by contrast. Steven Kellogg's artwork is like first aid for these hanging questions and distractions -- his watercolor washes soften the hysteria, and his pen work is detailed and affecting.