Monday, August 05, 2013

Back to School: My New Teacher and Me by Al Yankovic

"The first day of school--it was finally here!

I wondered who'd be my new teacher this year...."

Billy is back, but instead of the first-day jitters, he's gung-ho for school to start.

But the schoolroom scene is not propitious.

RULES are posted everywhere. Each desk has a personal list of rules taped to it. And when Mr. Booth enters, with fractions on his mind, it is obvious that he's a up-tight stickler for doing things his way. The first object for his attention is Billy's shirt.

"You, young man! What's that filth on your shirt? You can't come to my classroom all covered with dirt?"

"Hi! Nice to meet you, sir! Billy's the name.

Say, a funny thing happened before the bus came."

And Billy launches into a far-fetched account of s before-school dig to China, finding a dinosaur skull, and on and on.

Mr. Booth is not amused.

"I don't tolerate nonsense--no, no, not one degree.
"Your story sound unlikely to me."

"Oh, of course, it's unlikely" I said. "Oh, by far!
The awesomest things in the world often are."

Enthusiastically, Billy continues with preposterous accounts of two-headed cows, blueberry muffin trees, neighing poodles, and squids turning themselves inside out. The class is amused. Mr. Booth clearly is not.

So Billy halts his tall tale and reverts to a bit of platitude pitching.
"Well, Sir, you know...
I'll bet every great thing and leader we've got
Could see all kinds of things other people could not."

Hmmmph! Billy is summarily dismissed for insubordination right to the principle's office, but as he goes out the door something falls out of his bookbag, and when Mr. Booth picks it up  he sees that it's inscribed to him, a photo of Billy--with a two-headed cow. Suddenly, Mr. Booth is forced to recalculate his assessment of his new student.

Al Yankovic (Weird Al Yankovic, nicknamed in the seventies for his socially spoofy songs) has his hero Billy dealing with the first day of school in his latest, My New Teacher and Me! (Harper, 2013), a super-strict new teacher tale filled with perky couplets and spiffy wordplay that may ease the transition for new scholars, who may also be forewarned to pack photographic evidence of any summer tall tales they bring to their "What I Did This Summer" essays. Wesley Hargis' illustrations have great comic fun with Billy's far-fetched verbal flights, making this one a kid-pleasing first-day-of-school treat.

For more farcical fun, pair this one with Weird Al's first Billy story, When I Grow Up. Or reach for and even weirder teacher tale, Chris Gall's hilarious Substitute Creacher (read my review here).

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