Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for Read all about it!
Read all about it!


1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2008.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Tyrone and his friends rule the school except for the library, which he thinks is boring until strange happenings during story hour change his mind.
Reading Level:
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 123273.

Accelerated Reader LG 3.3 0.5 123273.


Call Number
JP Bus

On Order



Tyrone rules the school!

He's king of the monkey bars, a math machine, and a science whiz.

The only thing he doesn't like about school is reading. Books are so boring! But when strange visitors start dropping by the classroom for story hour, Tyrone discovers there's more to books than just words on pages.

Tyrone and his friends are swept up in a mysterious adventure that lands them in a most unexpected place. Mrs. Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna create a classroom adventure that will leave readers racing to the shelves!

A portion of proceeds to benefit Teach for America and The New Teacher Project.

Author Notes

Jenna is the younger of the fraternal twin daughters of the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and a granddaughter of the 41st U.S. President George H. W. Bush.

Hager is a teacher, author and correspondent for NBC's Today show. She has written articles for CosmoGIRL! and the New York Times. Jenna's first book, Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope, is based on her work with UNICEF.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-This book begins on an odd note, as Tyrone Brown proclaims: "I'm a professional student and class clown." A primary-grade audience will be clueless as to what "professional student" means, and adults will be puzzled as to how a child can fall into that category. Tyrone explains that he enjoys science and math, but that books are "so last year" and that "the library is a boring place" with "stinky pages." He sits with his back to his teacher and colors on his shoe as she reads. Disappointed that the class is listening to the story instead of being awed by his "spaceship" (a paper airplane), Tyrone decides to listen, for a change. He not only discovers that he likes stories, but also that the characters emerge from the books. When Miss Libro reads about a pig, it pops off the page, and the children fall in love with it. However, after she finishes reading the book, the porker vanishes, and the children find all of the characters in the library. Tyrone's abrupt conversion is unlikely, as is his equally sudden ability to indulge in flights of fancy. Brunkus's bright and cheerful watercolor art features a multiethnic cast with expressive faces and energetic body language. Celebrity authorship and intriguing art will draw children to this entry, but for stories that combine fantasy with more logical plot development, stay with Carmen Deedy's The Library Dragon (Peachtree, 1994) or David McPhail's Edward and the Pirates (Little, Brown, 1997).-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

When his homeroom teacher, Miss Libro, reads aloud each day, Tyrone stubbornly ignores each story. He flies paper planes or pokes at his shoe with a pencil. One day, Tyrone actually listens, and he's amazed. Book characters spring to life, right in the classroom, and disappear when the book ends. There are people who will love this book. After all, it addresses a problem seen across the country: many children, especially boys, choose not to read because they see books as dull. The story line of a misunderstood character who learns an important lesson and is eventually able to succeed in school is a common, and often beautiful, trajectory in children's literature. The illustrator is loved for her work with the popular Junie B. Jones series. And the authors! The authors are sincere in their love of reading--plus, they are famous. But good intentions are not the same as a good book. The message here is that something magical happens when readers are drawn into the lives of characters. Ironically, Tyrone, the main character and narrator, never does come to life. We do not empathize with Tyrone because he's a conglomerate of traits that do not fit easily in the same person. To begin with, although Tyrone is a braggart and a self-described class clown, he sounds like Laura Bush. Here is Tyrone describing a chapter-book pig that comes to life in his classroom: "He was dirty and disorganized. He ate the most grotesque combination of leftover school lunches." Tyrone promptly joins his classmates in teaching the pig table manners--not exactly what one might expect of a ruffian who tyrannizes the school. Even Tyrone's age is unclear. Although he struts like a teenager, solves algebraic equations and towers over kindergartners, the books his teacher recommends--among them Curious George and The Cat in the Hat--suggest an audience of five- or six-year-olds, and indeed, when the class gathers at Miss Libro's knee for story hour, they appear to be first-graders. Brunkus's participation notwithstanding, the authors are not willing to let Tyrone be disobedient and difficult the way Junie B. Jones can be. They don't really want him to do his own thing with that pig. Theirs is a world where everything is in its place. Tyrone's mother gardens, his father plays catch, and his genius friend looks like a nerd. In the books his teacher reads aloud, princes save princesses. On opening day, the bulletin board promotes good manners, and the central display in the classroom is always a list of rules: always raise your hand, follow all directions. As Tyrone comes to love books, he loses his spunk, taming the pig of his bad manners--and personality--just as the school has tamed him. Tyrone turns from the class clown to the bearer of moral lessons. In the end, this is the book's central problem. In its world of regiment and order, there is never room for a wild rumpus. Lucy Calkins, the Robinson Professor of Children's Literature at Teachers College, Columbia University, is also the founding director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and the director of the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Tyrone finds reading boring. He's transformed from bibliophobe to dedicated reader thanks to a teacher who reads aloud every afternoon, making the stories come alive. The writing is faux-flippant ("I'm Tyrone Brown and I rule the school...I told her books are so last year"), and the story is preachy and unimaginative. Brunkus's cartoony illustrations breathe some life into the book. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

The nation's First Librarian and her daughter team up to present a well-meaning salute to the pleasures of reading. Like so many bright, active boys, Tyrone doesn't "despise" books; he just doesn't "prefer them"--until one day he actually listens during storytime and from then on he's hooked. In fact, when Miss Libro reads now, the characters from her stories physically manifest in the classroom. Brunkus depicts a genially multicultural group of kids, whose eyes widen in amazement as first ghost, then Ben Franklin then a pig pop out of Miss Libro's books. While appealing, the logic behind the characters' appearance never comes clear; the kids' stupefaction at the pig's disappearance at the end of its book is likewise unconvincing. The text displays a keen understanding of the psyche of the nonreading child, but it's unlikely to win any of them over with its muddied message. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this book go to Teach for America and The New Teacher Project; perhaps those nurtured by these organizations can work on effectively converting reluctant readers. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Tyrone loves math, lives for science, and is king of the playground. But books well, he doesn't really care for them. When his teacher, Miss Libro, reads aloud, Tyrone usually finds something better to do, like making paper airplanes. Then, during one of the story sessions something happens: Tyrone starts listening. And once he listens, incredible things occur. Ghosts and dragons fly out of their books and into the classroom, and Ben Franklin stops by. But best of all is when a pig pops in (perhaps Wilbur from Charlotte's Web?); Tyrone is crushed when the story is over, and the pig disappears. A search for the pig ends at the library, where the students also find all the other characters they have met before. A combined effort by First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna, the author of  Ana's Story (2007), this purposeful tale gets a real kick from the art. Brunkus, the illustrator of the Junie B. Jones books, offers highly colored pictures that find fun in classroom situations, both real and fantastical. Even nonreaders may be prompted to give books a try. A portion of the proceeds goes to Teach for America and the New Teacher Project.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2008 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

THE first scene in Robyn Scott's memoir takes place shortly after her family has arrived in Botswana. Her parents had decided on the spur of the moment to uproot their children from New Zealand and return to the peaceful nation where they had met. Robyn, the oldest of the three Scott children, is just shy of 7. It's dusk and Grandpa Ivor is impressing the children by luring two giant moths to his face with droplets of wine and grape juice he lets pool in the corners of his mouth. First, one lands on his cheek, "wings flat against his face, long proboscis reaching for a drop," then the other settles on the other cheek. Such scenes of innocent wonderment, "magical and ridiculous" in Scott's words, animate "Twenty Chickens for a Saddle" as it follows the Scotts' 15 years in Botswana. The six most colorful years are spent in Selebi, the former mining town where Grandpa Ivor and Granny Betty are the sole residents. Scott's family - in a typically unconventional move - sets up house across the yard in a foul-smelling former cow shed. The rest of the book is divided mostly between the family's subsequent home on a 2,000-acre farm (another fanciful dream of her father, a doctor who flies to private clinics in even more remote villages) and Scott's teenage years at boarding school in neighboring Zimbabwe. Robyn, or "Rob" or "Robbie," is smart and willful. And although she never articulates it - other than through her father's jokes about her lacking a sense of humor or her mother's homeopathic remedies, designed in Robbie's case to make her less rigid Scott is not as quirky as the rest of her family. Her mother home-schools the children in unstructured "lessons." Both parents allow their son to play with blasting caps from an old mine dump, which nearly blow his eyes out. They make their 9-year-old daughter break her own pony; and her father leaves her, as an adolescent, alone with an angle grinder. Robyn Scott's grandfather, a bush pilot and a drunk, "retired" his Cessna. "It was fine - as Mum and Dad's big decisions always were," Scott writes. "Now, as always, the past and its possibilities were soon banished by the excitement of what lay ahead: the temptation to dwell and regret no match for the love of change that Mum and Dad both lived and breathed so infectiously into the family." Scott never attempts to square her love for her parents' sense of fun with the irresponsibility that accompanied it. In fact, she misses most opportunities for introspection, revelation or catharsis - the particular gifts memoirs can offer author and reader alike. Scott avoids many of the pitfalls some white African memoirists have fallen into: most important, the insistent if subtle sense of white superiority that sometimes lurks just beneath the surface. But her Africa is too often cast as an exotic "other" - though that may be inevitable given her age when she arrived in Botswana. The menagerie of eccentrics in her family is the most interesting jungle in Scott's world. But rather than investigating them, or any conflicted feelings toward them, she chooses to concentrate on natural history. Africa is mostly a backdrop, though, never deeply explored. Likewise, the endless stories of poisonous snakes and other Dark Continent vermin add as little to an understanding of Scott's inner life as do the beautiful sunsets she describes - above the brittle bush or the crocodile- and hippoinfested waters of the Limpopo. She does, however, dwell awhile on her grandfather Ivor's drunkenness and her father's stubbornness in dealing with him. Ivor had left his three sons and his wife penniless after their divorce, and fled to a new life in Botswana as a bush pilot when Scott's father was 12. Yet after detailing Grandpa Ivor's catalog of fatherly flaws, Scott writes that "as a grandfather, however, he was perfect." Beautifully written and lovingly told, Scott's book has the makings to be "Out of Africa" meets "Running With Scissors" - except Scott lacks Augusten Burroughs's wry wit and sharp analysis. In the end, the Botswanan government's unwillingness or inability to heed her father's research into cheap, natural remedies to slow progression of earlystage AIDS leads him to give up on the country. Not long after, both parents give up on their marriage. Scott earned a degree in bioinformatics, studying access to medicine in poor nations, and continues to volunteer in the field. In that sense, she is, in some way, trying to fulfill her parents' dream for Botswana. That's heady stuff, but Scott doesn't address it here. Like Scott, I wrote my memoir in my 20s, and I know from experience that when she writes the next edition of "Twenty Chickens for a Saddle," 20 years from now, she may well add some of the emotional complexity this first edition lacks. Marcus Mabry is the author of the memoir "White Bucks and Black-Eyed Peas" and "Twice as Good," a biography of Condoleezza Rice.