Arlo, Mrs. Ogg, and the Dinosaur Zoo

Maverick Arts. (Class X). Apr. 2020. 144p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781848864689.
Gr 2-4–Teachers don’t stay long with the “unruly, disobedient, and unteachable” students in class 4X. Fortunately, Arlo diligently takes notes in his notebook in order to tell the class’s tale. One day, substitute teacher Ms. Ogg arrives wearing a dress made from fur patches with bones as earrings, carrying a large stick. She is a woman of few words (mostly grunts) but manages to maintain control over the class with the beat of her stick on the ground. Ms. Ogg dares to do what other substitutes wouldn’t—she takes class 4X on a field trip. When they arrive at the “Zoo,” students notice it is no ordinary place; this zoo is filled with prehistoric and other extinct animals. Students have fun, learn about dinosaurs through an up close and personal experience, and mostly manage to stay out of trouble. Time spent with Ms. Ogg helps Arlo see everyone has hidden talents. The conclusion of this story leaves space for the class to have a learning adventure with the appropriately named Miss Pythia, dressed as a Greek goddess with an eye tattooed on the back of her neck. Appealing grayscale illustrations enhance the prehistoric field trip experience.
VERDICT The worlds of the “Magic School Bus,” Mary Poppins, and Jurassic Park collide in this middle grade novel for readers fond of upbeat fantastic school adventures and dinosaurs.

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