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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Bubble-Gum in the library?

Yes, folks, bubble-gum. Gum is NOT tolerated by my assistant. She knows where it will end up and has clearly stated her refusal to clean gum from furniture and chairs. Sooo, what on earth am I trying to do to her by bringing in the book Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist written by Rush Spiro and illustrated by Thor Wickstrom? 

Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist is actually a book of accepting one’s place in a family while romping through a wide variety of arts, styles, and works. As you read the clever word-play and tongue-in cheek humor, you realize that every word, name, and illustration has been carefully selected. Students are encouraged to study and ask questions. 

I heard one ask the art teacher "Is there something special about the name Edgar and ballet dancers?" Yes, this is what I want to see. Fun picture books that trick you into thinking of even larger concepts and expanding your knowledge – in this case of famous artists and their works. 

Lester Fizz is the only non-artistic member of his family until he discovers and nurtures a talent for blowing bubblegum art works. It seems all artists have their detractors and cousin Cornell delights in ribbing Lester. Thor Wickstrom’s illustrations are exhuberant (as all the reviews tout) but they are also thought-provoking and hilarious. Thor has managed to sneak tricky details into some of artist’s work that seem to mock the originals in a playful yet inventive manner. Art is appreciated, celebrated, and extended through this title. 

Still, it’s not enough in practically paradise for me to have fun with a title, I had to try it out with students. I chose an enthusiastic resource classroom whose students were tired of working hard all week and wanted a change. Remember that English is new to many of my students. The teacher excitedly read the title to students and reminded them that I love to read their writings. It looks like I’ll be writing notes all Monday morning commenting on their responses. Remember when people exchanged letters before blogging and commenting? 

Here are some of their comments:

The story was great. Bubble-gum art, that’s cool! Whoever wrote this story will make lots of money. It was really good!

It was good. I saw a great bubble like I never saw in my life.

I really like what he [Lester] did and how he tried to make a good picture and I really like how he did it.

I liked this book because he made his family out of it [bubblegum] and he is so good at it. I like him.

I like the book because she blew her bubble-gum. 

I like the book, it was great. I liked the art work. I think you can let JFK have some of your great books more often. 

This was good to me and the bubble-gum artist was the best book ever. Thanks for letting us read it. 

It is cool – the gum act. I wish I could do that. I like it. 

It was cool. I want to learn how to blow bubbles like that.

This book is the best book that I have ever heard. Lester Fizz, the Bubble-Gum artist. I did not know he had a talent where he could blow the bubble-gum. He covered the girl’s body. This book is a great one.

I like it because it was funny and good. That’s the best I ever heard. 

I like the part when Lester was flying with his bubble gum. The cool thing about Lester is how he makes things with his bubble gum. I wish that if that’s possible, I could do it because I like bubble gum. I wonder how it feels making things like that with bubble gum. I wonder how it feels flying with bubble gum. I liked the story because it has bubble gum in it. I wonder how he got the skills of making things with bubble gum. I’d like doing it because I would have to eat alot of bubble gum. I really would like it. 

OH, NO! Now I have an entire class of students wanting to chew bubble-gum and blow bubbles. I’d better hide the evidence of my inciting bubble-gum-blowing before my assistant realizes what I’ve done.

Thanks for the copy, Ruth! Readers, you can read more about the story of this book’s release here or on the author’s website.


  1. Krissy Neddo says:

    I love the diversity of your reviews. I am always trying to find new books for music, art and P.E. that I can wrap up and “mail” to their classes to review. The letters and feedback really make my day. It’s already checked out at my public library-put it on hold.

  2. Ok- so there’s another book we need to get for K and B! They chew bubblegum (no bubbles yet) and would love to hear it. I am assuming that this is a picture book. Yes?

  3. Ok- so there’s another book we need to get for K and B! They chew bubblegum (no bubbles yet) and would love to hear it. I am assuming that this is a picture book. Yes?