Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School

written and illustrated by David Mackintosh
Abrams Books for Young Readers | August 1, 2011

The young narrator tells the reader all about Marshall Armstrong, new to school. It seems Marshall is a bit odd, with odd parents. He looks a tad different, showing up the first day in a banded straw hat and jacket and tie, carrying a briefcase; his shoes are tied in a new way and his watch has no hands; all his food is weird. Not playing with the other kids at recess and reading the newspaper just serve to set him apart even further. Marshall Armstrong doesn't appear bothered by any of this in the slightest. When the child telling the story is forced to attend Marshall's birthday party, he anticipates the worst. But he's pleasantly surprised by what he finds and learns a valuable lesson about judging people in the process.

The book is designed and lettered by the author and almost every page turn reveals a double spread. The illustrations are simple yet provocative, and ask for a reader to look and search and consider the information provided in each one. "His glasses belong to another boy" is paired with a close-up illustration of the arm of Marshall's glasses, imprinted with "Ray Ban." And "his eyes are always focused on Ms. Wright" is paired with a stylized illustration of glasses with pupils made of protractors indicative of Marshall's math proclivities.

First published in the UK, the book is simple in message and pleasing in execution and small readers may begin wonder, like the unnamed narrator, what wonderful new adventures a new kid might have in store.

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