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Review of Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade)

Oh No! Not Again!Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade)
by Mac Barnett; illus. by Dan Santat
Primary Disney-Hyperion 40 pp.
6/12 978-1-4231-4912-5 $17.99 g
Barnett and Santat reunite with this companion to Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World). This time it’s a time machine that goes wrong for the bespectacled heroine. Running with the butterfly effect trope, we see that little (and very big) changes in the past do alter history. Our heroine, after missing a question on her history test, builds a bunny-faced time machine that takes her back to 33,000 BCE. While she is changing history by painting caves in Belgium, two cave dudes make off with her vehicle and do some history-changing of their own. Santat’s bright digital illustrations with lots of graphic elements capture the feel of the cinema (complete with a book jacket that converts to a movie poster). Readers will especially enjoy the hapless cave guys who have no idea what to do with paintbrushes and spray paint but seem to know how to drive the time-travel mobile. Whether they are shoving paintbrushes up their noses, spray-painting their faces, or stabbing each other with pencils, readers will find these Cave Stooges irresistible. Other touches, such as the faux Lascaux painting depicting an alien invasion, will allow young readers to feel in on the joke. Careful reading of the final spread, a time transit map that resembles a subway map, is an education in itself.

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.

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