Review: Oh No! Not Again! by Mac Barnett

oh no not again

Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at least my history grade) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat

The sequel to Oh No! (Or How My Science Report Destroyed the World) takes on history class.  The female protagonist messes up her perfect score on a history test by missing the first question: In what modern country do we find the oldest prehistoric cave paintings?  So she figures out a simple answer to getting a perfect score: she builds a time machine to change history so that her answer of Belgium is correct.  When she finally reaches the right point in history, she is faced with two Neanderthals who aren’t really interested in creating art.  They’d much rather stick the paintbrushes up their nose or munch on the paint palette.  Spray paint worked even less well.  When our hero heads into the cave to do it herself though, the Neanderthals highjack her time machine.  What’s that going to do to her history grade?

Fans of the first book will enjoy this one as well.  It has the same zany, wild pacing of the first.  This time the romp is through history.  Happily, the book embraces a very simple sort of history to understand, so young readers will be able to get the humor and understand the juxtapositions that make up much of the story. 

Santat brings in physical humor too, giving the book his signature pizzazz and style.  I’m a fan of the color palette that hearkens back to an old film throughout.  It has a grainy texture and then there are the light-colored lines running vertically through the images.  Very school film on reels from my own childhood. 

A clever, funny and wild ride through history from the folks who brought us the robot rampage through science.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.