Mr. Pants: Its Go Time
R.H. Lazzell (Illustrator)
Dial, 2014 128 pgs.
Series: Mr. Pants #1
Mr. Pants (depicted as a tabby cat) is very much a typical boy having to suffer through the last day of summer vacation with his younger sisters (also cats) and mother (a human woman). After tricking his sister out of playing with her new toy the family gets on the road to adventure. Unfortunately, the first stop is "The Fairy Princess Dream Factory" (similar to Build a Bear Workshop), where young people (mostly girls) make fairy princess dolls. Mr. Pants talks all the girls into making cool warrior princess dolls, eventually making a fairy princess doll for himself. Next its off to shopping, the true test of torture. Mr. Pant's sisters draw the process out, making the experience even longer and distracting mother until Mr. Pants has to use ingenuity to speed things along. Finally, after settling for a rainbow unicorn backpack just to get out of there, Shopping is over and its on to the best activity: Laser Tag! Mr. Pants has been waiting all summer for this. Unfortunately, his mother and sisters turn out to be better than he is and Mr. Pants can't really get any good shots in. Finally School begins. Mr. Pants pulls off his unicorn backpack with characteristic cleverness and even manages, in true Tom Sawyer fashion, to convince the other boys to want one of their own.
I have to say I truly enjoyed reading Mr. Pants. There are silly bits, as well as cleverly funny parts, making the humor universal to everyone. Mccormick nails down a boy's point of view of the world, making this book a great choice for boys, but girls will like it too. The vocabulary is just right for kids developing their reading skills, but never talks down to young people. It would be a wonderful selection to give a non-reader to help them gain confidence and jump start them into a reading habit. Lazzell's slightly retro and brightly colorful illustrations are a perfect fit with Mccormick's text. They add a certain degree of whimsical zaniness that fits the character. At first I was put off by the fact that the kids are cats and the adults are human, and then I stopped noticing. Mr. Pant's mother seemed at first to be a stereotypical 1950's housewife, but then she went all ninja at laser tag. She takes Mr. Pant's nonsense with dead pan matter-of-factness and serves as the perfect straight guy. Whether its finding the fun in a cardboard box or telling his sister a crazy bedtime story, Mr. Pants never fails to entertain and bring the laughs. Kids who enjoyed this first series offering can find more zany fun in Mr. Pants: Slacks, Camera, Action, (released this month) and Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet coming in August.