Marie's Reviews > Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

Oh No! by Mac Barnett
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's review
Feb 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi, picture-books

Review pertains to hardcover ediction.

OH NO! (OR HOW MY SCIENCE PROJECT DESTROYED THE WORLD) is a very entertaining fantasy picture book written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat. The format is old-fashioned Japanese monster movie with elements of a modern day graphic novel. The book opens with the action already in motion. Our protagonist is walking; the speech balloon reads, “I knew it.” The destruction behind her indicates something terrible has happened and she might have some knowledge of the cause. The next page answers the question for the reader. She built a robot for a science experiment and something has definitely gone wrong! The robot is destroying the city (hence the Japanese Godzilla reference). She realizes that are some things robots should not have; “a super claw or the power to control dogs’ minds”. She should have given it an off button! She runs home to her lab to see what she can do to fix the situation and creates a monster-sized frog. But, OH NO, the cycle starts again!

Barnett’s limited text adds to the urgency of the situation, almost a news headline flashing across Times Square’s Teleprompters. The simple text and well-drawn illustrations compliment each other very well. At first I didn’t understand why there were white lines going down the page in uniformed segments. I realized later that this was to add to the old 8MM movie theme of the illustrations. Santat does an excellent job of adding details to draw the reader in and help complete the story. The motion of the drawings and bright colors add to the story nicely. There are also some Japanese translations (credited to Antoine Revoy) on the first page that add to the intrigue of the illustrations.

The story line is in keeping with low fantasy texts. The details are plausible and yet there are elements of fantasy where the reader needs to suspend belief. Barnett and Santat do a great job of maintaining a sense of logic and order in this created situation so the story is believable and enjoyable.

This text is suggested for K-3rd grade (School Library Journal review). I believe that rating is accurate but to truly understand the Japanese monster movie theme to its fullest a reader will need to have background knowledge of that movie genre. Adults will enjoy reading it to younger children and will understand the full meaning behind the illustrations. Classroom applications include discussions about visual literacy components or what just what the reader enjoyed about the book. I also see the text being used for older children as a stepping-stone into fantasy writing. For example, “what would you invent and what unforeseen thing could go wrong.”

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529_Amalia Marie,
Great review! After reading your review I had to go back and look at the illustrations to see the white lines that you talked about. I didn’t even notice those while reading the book. That just adds even more to the artwork of the book for me. Thank you for pointing that out. I really like how you related the simple text to “news headline flashing across Times Square Teleprompters.” I also really like your classroom application of what would you invent and what unforeseen thing could go wrong? I could see that being an awesome discussion starter for the older grades.

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