CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
Haley has been warned. If she’s late for school again, she’ll be sent to the office. There will be no more frog chases before the first bell. Sleeping in late will no longer be an option, and breakfast will now have one focus - eating. Haley is going to need a lot of help if this is going to happen. For Haley, help comes in the form of Bix, her very punctual best friend. Bix is going to keep Haley out of the principal’s office, and she’s willing to use a skipping rope to do it!
All week, Bix needs to think quickly. Haley always seems to run into problems which could cause serious time delays. Bix studies the problems at hand and comes to quick solutions. Monday’s problem is solved with Bix’s pink boots. Tuesday’s problem is resolved with a little bit of bravery and scaling of heights. Wednesday’s obstacle involves a tree, and Thursday’s involves a furry friend. Thanks to Bix, Haley does arrive at school on time every day, every day, that is, until Friday. Bix’s Friday plan backfires, and the results are doubly grim. Both girls find themselves in the principal’s office. The principal tells them, “I know you girls did your very best to be on time, but rules are rules.” Haley and Bix are given garbage duty for being late. They have to come to school early and pick up all the trash lying around the school grounds. Picking up used wrappers and old fruit peeling may seem like an unpleasant punishment, but it cannot wipe the smile off their faces. Haley is happy to be with Bix, and Bix is happy to be helping Haley again. If readers look carefully at Haley on garbage duty, they’ll chuckle, and see she really needs it!
Late for School is the third book in Scott Higgs’s “Haley and Bix” series for beginning readers. The first book in the series is loosely based on his daughter and her best friend. Over the years, Scott has created animations for the Internet and television. His writing and illustration career started when a story he created for his daughters was seen by an encouraging friend.
The illustrations in Late for School were created using inks and Photoshop. The humor in this book is visual. The story is told in the text, but the jokes come out in the illustrations. For example, the text reads: “Haley was late more often than anyone else in the class.” The reason why is not revealed until the reader looks at the illustration. And it’s funny. The reader sees Haley walking into class looking like she’s just been spit out of a muddy tornado. Another example is Friday morning’s page. The author doesn’t reveal Bix’s plan in his text; he, instead, uses his illustration to give you an idea about what’s going to happen.
Bix and Haley are opposites. Bix lives a careful and tidy life. Haley’s is frenzied and disorganized. Higgs emphasizes these differences in his illustrations. Bix’s desk legs end in tennis balls so the floors won’t be scratched. Haley’s desk is standing unsteadily on two legs. Bix’s schoolbag is closed shut while Haley’s schoolbag is barely hanging on to its contents, some of which have actually already escaped.
The use of doorways in this book reminds us of the divide between the adult’s world and the child’s world. When a doorway is shown, someone is always drawn walking through it or standing under it. Haley walks into the schoolroom, her dad walks into her bedroom, and the teacher watches Haley and Bix in the hallway from behind his classroom door. These visuals remind us of the different rules and expectations in each place.
The last illustration has an enjoyable feel. The work is over, the playground looks spotless, and the best friends are holding hands. Readers will get a final laugh though when they see the big silver X on Haley’s garbage bag, reminding us again that Haley needs Bix, and Bix is always there to help Haley.
This is a wonderful series for young girls. Haley and Bix have an admirable friendship and a wonderful respect for each other.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.