Michelle Knudsen

Book - 2011

Sallie's class is supposed to be raising chicks as a science project, but although Argus, the large, green, scaly creature that hatches from her egg, causes all sorts of trouble she worries about him when he disappears.

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Picture books
Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press 2011.
Main Author
Michelle Knudsen (-)
Other Authors
Andréa Wesson (illustrator)
1st ed
Physical Description
unpaged : col. ill. ; cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

When Mrs. Henshaw hands out eggs for her students to hatch in their desktop incubators, Sally points out that hers looks different. The teacher replies, Don't be difficult. Determined to complete the science project, she overlooks the obvious in the events that follow: a green, dragonlike creature (Argus) hatches from Sally's egg; grows to an enormous size; and threatens to eat the other chicks and even the kids themselves. When Argus gets lost, though, the whole class goes to the rescue. With deadpan storytelling that serves the humor well, the writing concentrates on classroom activities and Sally's reactions. Argus' true identity goes unmentioned in the text but is unmistakable in the pictures. Children are left to draw their own conclusions. With clean lines and muted colors, the ink-and-watercolor artwork illustrates the story in a most engaging way, magnifying the humor but keeping the absurdity in check. This pleasing picture book is fun for reading aloud.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Sally's green, polka-dotted science project egg should have produced a fluffy chick like her classmates' eggs, but it cracks open to reveal a dragon instead; she names him Argus. She needs three pieces of paper for his growth chart, and while her classmates' chicks peck sweetly in the yard, Argus chews "a giant hole in the ground with his teeth." Yet when Argus disappears, Sally grows worried. Her peppery science teacher, Mrs. Henshaw, becomes an unexpected ally (her orange traffic cones and brisk "Don't be difficult" are the story's leitmotifs); in the end, Sally grows to love having a companion that's not like anyone else's. Wesson's (the Evangeline Mudd books) watercolors of the tubby Argus are wonderfully goofy, especially when he's galumphing incongruously through Sally's classroom ("He stopped trying to eat the other chicks. He started trying to eat the children instead"). Knudsen (Library Lion) never overplays her hand, but lets the story's laughs unfold naturally from the characters and circumstances. Her grasp of the life of the elementary school classroom is spot-on; this should become another favorite. Ages 4-7. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-It's science project time in Mrs. Henshaw's class, and when all the eggs have been distributed for placement in the desktop incubators, Sally notices that hers is different. "Don't be difficult," responds her teacher. This mantra is uttered to children and adults alike whenever an objective observation threatens to alter her universe. All of the other chicks are yellow, fluffy, and diminutive; Sally's is green, scaly, and off all growth charts. Argus and Sally are banished to a remote corner of the playground, after the dragon's "pecking" causes dangerous craters. When he disappears, Sally "waited to feel relieved. She waited to feel happy." In the ensuing scenes, Knudsen's heroine grapples with her conscience, her emotions, and the notion of being different, emerging with a newfound peace and strength when the lost is found. Wesson's lanky, gawky watercolor and ink caricatures capture the fragility of childhood, and the understated telling provides space to grapple with one's own navigation through episodes of unenlightened authority. Children will relate to the drama while enjoying the humor found in both text and illustration. The compositions are full of the clutter and chaos one might expect with chicks and a dragon residing there. For another tale concerning the depth of youthful compassion and intelligence in contrast to their classroom leaders, try Paul Fleischman's The Dunderheads (Candlewick, 2009).-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Each of Mrs. Henshaw's students receives a chicken egg to study for science. Sally's "looks different," and it hatches into a dragon. Knudsen's text includes lots of humor ("Don't be difficult," repeatedly responds Mrs. Henshaw whenever Sally indicates her hatchling's divergent and destructive qualities). Wesson, using impeccable lines, expertly details the implements and appliances of a grade-school science project. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

(Picture book. 4-7)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.