Secret Lives of School Supplies: The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
THERE'S TOO MUCH TO DO! WHERE ARE MY HELPERS?
IF THE PAPERS AREN'T GRADED, THE STUDENTS WON'T LEARN. THE SCHOOL MIGHT CLOSE.
THE WALLS MIGHT TUMBLE. THE SKY MIGHT FALL. IT MIGHT BE THE END OF THE WORLD!
WHO WILL HELP ME SAVE THE WORLD?
It's nighttime in the classroom, and Teacher's desk is piled high with unchecked papers. Red Pen, her dutiful administrative assistant, hears the call of duty. But there's a mutiny among Teacher's other tools of the trade in her drawer. Do Stapler, Scissors, Eraser, No. 2 Pencil, Green Highlighter, and Pushpin (alias Senorita Chincheta) answer the call? Nope!
"Not I," they all say, listing a litany of complaints and miseries. Pencil is sharpened down to a nub; Scissors is getting dull from all his cutting up; Eraser's suffering from brain shrinkage, and all of them fear the ultimate end for over-the-hill office supplies, the Point of No Return, THE TRASH, where their former comrade-in-arms, Black Felt-Tip, was discarded when his cap was left off.
And Tank, the overweight and underexercised classroom hamster, is no help either. He snoozes on, in the shadow of his now rusty exercise wheel. So Red Pen soldiers on alone through the long night, scritch-scratching through the endless math papers and language arts worksheets, until at last she wobbles wearily, stumbles blearily, and rolls--off the desk!
"OH, NO!" WHISPERED ERASER. "PEN IS IN THE...THE...."There's nothing for it but to mount a rescue for their leader, and the supplies are at last out of the drawer and on the job. What to do? Suffice it to say that the daring desk-drawer deliverers take stock of their resources, creating a paperclip chain and coming up with a clever block and tackle apparatus involving a formerly unused hamster wheel and a suddenly er, motivated Tank, who, aroused to morph into Tankzilla by the pointedly talented Chincheta, takes an unexpected marathon run on his wheel and their lost leader is thus lifted out of school supply limbo.
"EL PUZO DE NO RETURNO!" SHOUTED CHINCHETA (pointedly) "I HATE TO BE BLUNT," SAID SCISSORS, "BUT SHE'S A GONER. NOBODY COMES BACK FROM THE PIT!
"NOW!" CRIED ERASER. "WE HAVE A JOB TO FINISH!
"YOU DIDN'T FORGET!" EVERYONE YELLED. "LET'S GET TO WORK!"
In award-winning Janet Stevens' and daughter Susan Stevens Crummel's The Little Red Pen (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, 2011) there's plenty to turn on the tickle boxes of sophisticated picture book readers--the clever takeoff on the venerable Little Red Hen motif, nifty wordplay on the properties of the sluggish supplies, and the clever climax which even throws in a gratis lesson in simple machines. Stevens' comic drawings do much to raise this detailed plot to high humor which sharp second and third-graders will readily appreciate. This tale is all set to become an, um, staple of schoolroom literature.