The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell by Jordan Sonnenblick

Hello, Jordan Sonnenblick! Happy TODAY (I’ve lost track of what day/month/year it is.) Thank you for stopping by Watch. Connect. Read. to share Marta Kissi’s brilliant cover illustration and Baily Crawford’s eye-catching cover design for The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell.

Since you are the main character in The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell, what does it feel like to see fourth-grade you on the cover?

Jordan Sonnenblick: I’d say overall that it feels weird. But good weird. Like when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think, “Hey! That person looks good!”

Please tell us about three of the characters featured on The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell’s cover.

Jordan Sonnenblick: Well, the most interesting thing about the cover art, to me, is how I am sort of caught between the two completely opposite poles that shaped my life that year. The woman with the dark hair and sinister raised eyebrows is my terrifying fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Fisher. She nearly broke my spirit. Then there’s the man in the white dress shirt and sweater, Mr. Stoll. He was my drum teacher, and was the steadiest and most positive influence in my life for most of that year. Then, in the bottom right corner we have the girl in the pink headband, Britt Stone. She was the prettiest girl in my class. I was fascinated by her, but we bickered nonstop. At the time, it was a pretty major problem in my life!

Scenario: A bookseller at Anderson’s Bookshops asks you to fill out a shelftalker about The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell. There is enough space for 250 characters. 

Jordan Sonnenblick: The tale of my 4th-grade year has a little bit of everything: Fires! Near drowning! Snakes! A nuclear accident! ADD! Death by hamster!

Fights! Crushes! Baseball! The meanest teacher in the world, and the nicest one.

Plus, the origin of my lifelong fascinations with the drums and love.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Asthma is no fun at all. I could never quite decide which was worse: being unable to breathe without sounding like a train whistle, or having to take a bunch of medicines that made it impossible for me to sleep or to pay attention in school.

Hector is my beloved pet snake. Hector was the one person (well, reptile) I could always trust with my problems.

School librarians are the lifeblood of their communities. Nothing in education makes me angrier than the waves of budget cuts since the 2008 economic downturn that have closed or ruined school libraries all over the country. Getting rid of the librarian is like tearing the beating heart out of the school’s chest.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me who this book is for. It’s for every kid who ever felt like the teacher didn’t understand his or her life. For every kid who constantly got in trouble, but maybe didn’t mean to. For every kid who wonders whether life can turn out okay in the end.

It’s also for every parent or teacher who could use a loving reminder that the toughest kid you have is the one who needs you the most.

Look for The Boy who Failed Show and Tell on February 1, 2021. 

Jordan's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fourth-grade year involves a hateful teacher, some bouts of asthma, a snake that sneaks, and eventual triumph through drumming, joking, and finding the right teacher to say the right things. 


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