McMullan, Kate. Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day. Illustrated by R.W. Alley. Dial Books, 2009. 40 pages. $14.99. ISBN 9780803730854.
April Fools’ Day is not Wagner’s day! In three funny chapters, we follow Wagner through his day at school. Pearl informs him that their teacher is roller-skating around the classroom… “April fools!” Next, his teacher gets tricky when she asks for the class’ homework… “April fools!” It turns out, the whole school is brimming with jokes, from the library to the cafeteria and Wagner gets tricked every time. When Ms. Star announces a math test, Wagner is sure it’s another joke, but this time it’s the truth! “Phooey… This is not my day!” The bad day continues when indoor gym becomes a dance contest and Wagner is no dancer. But by the final chapter, Wagner is ready to make up for lost time and pulls out a joke that fools everyone.
What first or second grader doesn’t love hearing about a good April Fools’ Day prank? Those who are new to school will appreciate the lighthearted tone here, as well as the explorations of some of the social issues that arise for Wagner as he begins to feel excluded from the joking.
Alley’s sweet illustrations of the animals in Wagner’s school are charming. He especiallly excels at conveying emotion and expressions: Pearl’s glee when she tricks him about the roller skates, Wagner’s glumness at the reality of the math test.
ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers, 2010.
Friendship, Humor, April Fools’ Day, School
This is the third book in the Pearl and Wagner series. It fits solidly into that genre of early readers that shows friendship in various forms, like Mouse and Mole, Frog and Toad, and, though not an early reader, George and Martha.