"Jazzbo Goes to School"

Jazzbo Goes to School (Jazzbo & Friends)


Book: Jazzbo Goes to School

Author and Illustrator: Matt Novak

Publisher: Hyperion, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0786803873

ISBN-10: 0786803878

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Reading level: Ages 3 and up

Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

     Novak, MattJazzbo Goes to School (published in 1999 by Hyperion).  Jazzbo is a diminutive bear who is not looking forward to starting school.  He walks down the stairs for breakfast in his jammies, sporting an oversize, polka-dot bow tie.  Responding to his mother’s comment that the duo will spend the day “shopping for a school for Jazzbo,” he announces firmly, “I do not need a school.”  However, he and his mother set off to find a place that’s just right for him.  Their shopping expedition has a rocky start.  First comes a visit to Grumpity School, where the teacher announces, “We work all day” and barks “No singing” to a bird outside.   As the young animals pore over books Jazzbo says, “I do not like Grumpity School.”   This is followed by a trip to Willy Nilly School, where the teacher explains, “We play all day.”  Chaos rules, and this time, not surprisingly, Momma doesn’t like the school. Finally they visit Super School, which is housed in a tree trunk and filled with a pet hamster, stuffed animals, lots of books, and more.   Miss Boggle and the other students eventually win over a hesitating Jazzbo by convincing him that this school needs him as much as he needs it.  

     Of course, homeschoolers have no need to provide books that are designed to assuage the fear and anxiety that beginning school students often have with the prospect of facing a new school.  However, we checked this book out of our library for our younger son Jeremy to have as extra practice when he was beginning to read because it was cute. The text is minimal yet understandable and the illustrations are large, boisterous, and colorful with funny visual details and occasional characters’ asides presented in balloons, adding a playful look to the artwork.  The landscapes of home, school, and play yard are bouncy and curvy.  A wordless double-page spread marks the point at which Jazzbo really starts to fit in.  There is enough eye-catching detail and optical silliness contained in the busy illustrations to hold children’s attention.  And many homeschool parents have found most public schools to be a combination of the Grumpity and Willy Nilly Schools, so we have decided to have Super School at home!

     This is the first of the “Jazzbo and Friends” series of books for young children.  In the first sequel Jazzbo and Googy, the charming little bear first introduced in Jazzbo Goes to School returns for another adventure which deals with the common childhood fear of not being able to make friends. Googy the bumbling pig makes big messes, ruins paintings, and pushes others just a little too high on the swings. However, when he rescues Jazzbo’s best friend Teddy from a mud puddle, a new friendship is forged.   There are also Jazzbo #3 and Jazzbo #4 books mentioned on different websites, and BookFinder.com lists a book simply entitled Jazzbo.  It seems as if most of these books are out of print and available only from used book sellers.

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