I Regret That I Misspoke: First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick
I'VE BEEN A LOT OF THINGS.
FOUR YEARS OLD.
WRAPPED UP LIKE A MUMMY IN TOILET PAPER (Don't ask.)
BUT THE WORST THING IS WHAT I AM NOW.
As soon as the word left his mouth, The Kid knew his life was ruined... at least the school part. It was soooo bad.
I. CALLED. MY. TEACHER. MOMMY.
The whole class laughed, even The Kid's best friend Tyler.
Clearly there's no way he can go back to school. Maybe he can put on his wizard hat and perform a wish-away-that-word spell. Or maybe invent a time machine and take himself back to being a baby and have a do-over for the first day of first grade. Maybe he can re-enroll in disguise as a new kid from London. France. Even Cincinnati.
Nah! There's nothing left to do but be a first grade dropout. If there is even such a thing!
Then at recess Tyler comes over, acting like nothing important has happened. The Kid tells him he's quitting school.
"AWESOME!" TYLER SAYS. "I'LL DROP OUT, TOO!"
HE HIGH-FIVES ME."WE CAN WORK ON OUR JUNK SHOTS."
Junk shots? JUNK SHOTS? The Kid presses his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing. He is NOT going to laugh. But Tyler notices something is up. He tries to insist that he's not laughing. But Tyler has to ask.
"WHAT ARE YOU NOT LAUGHING AT?"
"IT'S NOT JUNK SHOT. IT'S JUMP SHOT."
Oh. Tyler looks hurt. But then he starts laughing. And laughing. And then the two of them laugh. Then they laugh at each other laughing at each other.
What's a gaffe among friends, in Audrey Vernick's plaintive but funny First Grade Dropout (Houghton Mifflin Clarion Books, 2015), in which the main character learns a valuable lesson about laughing at himself when he makes a boner. Grace under pressure is easier with a best friend to laugh with you. And author Vernick's masterly paced first-person narrative inspires empathy, while artist Matthew Cordell's energetic comic illustrations combine sight gags and expressive body language to reveal the pain and pathos of being the laughing stock of the group. This one is a sure-fire first day read aloud and a good way to engender rapport among all the future friends in that opening-day class.