Book Review: Cesar Takes a Break
When I was student teaching, I remember the day we got a new class pet. I led students in voting to name the new goldfish. Everyone had two votes and they picked from a list of names we had already brainstormed. It was serious business, folks. Class pets maintain a pretty high profile in schools. Love ’em or not, they instantly capture kid’s affection upon entering a classroom. “Cesar Takes a Break” focuses on one such animal and his adventures over spring break. Kids who like a touch of ridiculousness in their books will be pleased.
The first clue that this one is going to be silly (besides the cover) is when, on the first page, we realize that our hero Cesar, a green iguana, will be telling the entire story through journal entries. First-iguana narration is not for those who are looking for the next great cerebral picture book. This journal entry style gives the whole operation a distinct “Diary of a Worm” feel.
When Cesar gets left behind during vacation he strikes out from his second grade home and explores the school. Through the course of discovering the art room, the gym, the cafeteria, and bumping into other class pets, Cesar realizes that spring break isn’t just for humans. As class is set to resume, the green iguana must decide whether or not to return to the class who loves him.
RogÃ©’s acrylic illustrations have a bright, childlike quality that is well suited for the lighthearted subject matter. There’s even a page in the back with iguana facts (written by Cesar) to provide some additional knowledge.
While it may extend just a hair over where I think it should, “Cesar Takes a Break” is still a worthwhile pick for young readers devoted to the class pet.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
Filed under: Reviews
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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