Principal Tate Is Running Late!

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jul. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063025745.
PreS-Gr 2–It’s seemingly a normal school day at Hardy Elementary School—a variety of animal students are arriving and everything is “all systems go!” Except that at quarter to eight, Ms. Dee notices that the blinds in Principal Tate’s office are down. She must be running late! The stakes rise to the point of hilarity as more characters in need of Principal Tate arrive at the school. What will Hardy Elementary do without its fearless leader? It is then that the staff members come to the rescue, sorting out problems and working together to get things running smoothly. This book starts right on the title page, which some might miss on a first reading. For the most part, the rhyming verse works to make the story playful, but at times it feels forced and the rhymes don’t quite connect. Cole refers to the students as “cargo” on the opening page, which might make some readers balk. However, the ultimate message of a community working together toward a common goal resonates. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are simple, bright, and colorful and add quite a bit of humor to some of the more bizarre elements of the story.
VERDICT Though not a book for kids hoping to learn what school is like, libraries with larger collections are sure to find some happy readers.

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