Coasting Casey: A Tale of Busting Boredom in School

illus. by Colleen Madden. 48p. Free Spirit. May 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781631980886; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781631980893.
Gr 1–3—Casey is a young student who is aware of his potential but doesn't care about his grades. He drifts and doodles while his teachers and coaches talk; his daydreamer ways lead him straight to the principal's office. Noticing the ink doodles on Casey's pants, the principal decides to encourage his creativity and brings out a giant paper roll that Casey designs into a banner for the school. The experience prompts the boy to want to do better. ("I decide I like doing well. How can I do some more? My head is full of ideas for turning my 'snores' into 'SCORES.'") Having found ways to work his hobbies into his schoolwork, Casey proudly holds up a report card of B's and even a few A's. Casey is a likable character, with tousled black hair and a little brother who could be his mini-me. The illustrations complement the text as Casey goes from a student with slumped posture and bored expression into a wide-eyed and eager scholar. The inclusion of nonwhite characters is visually refreshing, but the focus is mostly on Casey. Unfortunately, the narrative is limited by the text's rhyme scheme and the sing-song lyrics turn what could be a strong subject of interest into a forgettable and trite experience. A note to students, discussion questions, and activities follow the story.
VERDICT This is a well-meaning effort but, ultimately, an unmemorable one. Consider for larger collections.

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