MISSION: BACK TO SCHOOL
Illustrated by Mary Lundquist
Random House, 2016
What will distract first-time students from first-day jitters? Entering secret-agent mode, of course! The team from Mission: New Baby is back with a new assignment: turn school into a thrilling action adventure! After rendezvousing at the vehicle checkpoint (meeting at the bus stop), young agents will learn to build diplomatic relations (make new friends), conduct fieldwork (explore outside during science class), and develop new lines of communication (learn to read and play music). Chock-full of tips and fun visuals, it’s bound to get kids excited for their next mission!
For a companion book,
see MISSION: NEW BABY here.
In a clever take on the back-to-school theme, Hood presents the first day of school as a secret agent’s mission, with steps to complete.
“Your mission? To begin the first phase of training in your hunt for intelligence.” Step No.1 is to suit up. The story follows multiple kids. There’s one searching the laundry for a favorite shirt, another who lost a shoe, and still another who wears every favorite piece of clothing at once—tiara, tutu, cowboy boots. Step 2: rendezvous at vehicle checkpoint. This includes those who are walking, biking, or getting to school by bus or car. The intelligence officer (teacher) hands out IDs (nametags), and then agents must build diplomatic relations (say hello in seven different languages, including Robot) and get debriefed (circle time). From subjects studied and school rules to the basic schedule and a mishap (an escaped class pet), the 19 steps pretty much cover it all, albeit in wonderful tongue-in-cheek secret-agent language that kids will really enjoy. Lundquist’s artwork does the heavy lifting, as there is no text other than the steps and a few speech bubbles. The watercolor illustrations feature diverse children, a white male teacher, and even a set of twins (one wears glasses)—aka double agents. This will not only calm new students’ fears, but give them a unique way to look at their own first days of school.
Hood and Lundquist? Mission accomplished. And grown-ups with fledgling spies? Add some secret-agent supplies to your shopping lists.
Hood and Lundquist reprise the conceit behind Mission: New Baby (2015) as they bring a secret agent sensibility to the “hunt for intelligence” (aka going to school). In numbered steps, Hood walks readers through the mission, which includes “#3. Meet intelligence officer” (that would be the teacher) and “#10. Report rogue agent” (a rabbit that has escaped its cage). Hood revels in these and numerous other puns throughout. “Watch out!” It’s a sting operation!” shouts one boy, as the spies-in-training “conduct fieldwork” by observing bugs outside (including a very active beehive). During recess, twins are “double agents” and a “high-level meeting” is held atop the playground’s climbing dome, all captured with warm humor in Lundquist’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations.