Friday, August 24, 2012

School Days: Marley: The Dog Who Ate My Homework created by John Grogan

Marley was waiting for Cassie to come home.

He'd been waiting all day to play fetch.

"Not now, Marley," Cassie said. "I have to work on my project for school."

Ignoring the hopeful Marley with his entire collection of balls assembled by the door, Cassie is intent on mission solar system model--with her thoughts solely on finding spherical objects to represent the sun and its eight planets. Dashing into the kitchen to tell her mother about the project, her gaze falls on the full fruit bowl on the table. A big grapefruit, apples, oranges.... perfect!

Soon Cassie has built her model from string, straws, and nine assorted sizes of fruit, and hangs it from the dining room chandelier to keep it out of harm's way until morning. Marley thinks his time to play ball has come at last.

"Sorry, Marley! Now I need to write my report on the planets and the sun!" said Cassie, as she hurries off to her desk.

Poor Marley. There's no time for playing fetch that night, and when Cassie and the family finally go to bed, Marley sadly heads for his own bed, too. But no sooner has he curled up than he hears an intriguing thump from the next room.

Dashing into the dining room, Marley sees what made the sound. The big grapefruit which was playing the role of the sun has fallen. The solar system's balance is out of whack and it is spinning crazily. Marley knows it's his job to help Cassie out.

"Oh, no! If I take a bite of this one," Marley thought, "the balls will line up again."

Marley bites into one of the orange balls. It was SO sweet!"

Young readers will know exactly where this story is going, and of course when Cassie comes downstairs to pack up her project the next morning, there are no intact planets left, and Marley has a telltale orange juice stain on his ruff. Where can Cassie find enough new spheres to replace her "planets?" Guess who can show her just the balls to rebuild her model in a jiffy?

Continuing the adventures of John Grogan's irrepressible Marley, Harper's illustrious I-Can-Read series has a new school-time title, Marley: The Dog Who Ate My Homework (I Can Read Book 2) (Harper, 2012) just in time for back-to-school reading for early readers. Caitlin Birch's well-paced, controlled vocabulary text makes for easy reading for primary students, and Rick Whipple does a jolly job of illustrating the now-famous members of the Grogan family and their pesky pooch.

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