Cover image for
My best friend is as sharp as a pencil : and other funny classroom portraits
Piven, Hanoch, 1963-



Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
When her grandma asks her about school, a girl draws a class portrait, adding details that show what makes each person special. Includes author's note about making pictures using objects.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.0 0.5 137775.
Pub Date:
Schwartz & Wade Books, [2010]



Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Central - Houston Public Library Kid/Juvenile Closed stacks picture book Kids book E PIVEN

On Order



Here's the perfect back-to-school gift for budding artists. Like the creator's previous picture book, My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, this picture book encourages children to be creative and make their own object portraits. It's a fun activity for home or for the classroom. You can even check out portraits made by other readers in the "kids' gallery" of author Hanoch Piven's Web site, while you're at it, send in your own!

Learn how to create a funny librarian, a colorful art teacher, or your best friend by seeing how one girl does it in this simple, playful picture book that's comprised of portraits made of objects. Once the girl has talked about--and drawn--the key figures in her school, she ends with the pièce de résistance--a class portrait!

Author Notes

Hanoch Piven is the illustrator of several children's books, including My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks; What Presidents Are Made Of, a Child Magazine Best Book, a Parents' Choice Award recipient, and an ABA Kids' Pick of the List; and What Athletes Are Made Of. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and the New Yorker. Hanoch Piven received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators for his object portrait of Barbra Streisand, which appears on the cover of Faces: 78 Portraits from Madonna to the Pope.

Over the past five years, Hanoch has been giving "drawing with objects" workshops in the United States and abroad. He works in classrooms, hospitals (in art therapy programs), and museums. Learn more about him at

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This engaging book is similar to Piven's My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and Other Funny Family Portraits (2007). Vibrant portraits in words and realia-collage illustrations, purportedly created by the child narrator in anticipation of her grandmother's inevitable questions about school, will delight readers. One double-page spread gives each new character's traits, expressed in several verbal metaphors (e.g., as jumpy as a million rubber bands ) and in photos of objects (such as 8 colored rubber bands). On the next spread, a painting incorporating those objects forms an eye-catching, idiosyncratic portrait.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This book's narrator, sketched in charcoal, uses objects and similes to illustrate her answers to her grandmother's questions about school. Mrs. Sheila, the librarian, is as "interesting as a book full of stories. When she reads them, her eyes shine like marbles." There's a photograph included for each object, and on the next page, Mrs. Sheila's portrait is enhanced with the objects used to describe her (her eyes are indeed marbles). Other portraits include "Sofia (the wildest girl in my class)," whose smile is made from a string of jingle bells, and Mildred, the class turtle. Like its predecessor, My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, this is a gleeful fusion of collage and figurative language. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-When a girl's grandmother comes to visit, she is filled with questions about the child's teachers, friends, and school. Instead of simply answering, the girl decides to show her grandmother what she likes about the important people in her life. She gathers up piles of objects and then sorts through them to find representative objects and collages them into portraits. The girl's friend Jack, who is geographically inclined and "sharp as a pencil," ends up having globes for eyes, magnifying glasses for glasses, a microscope nose, and a pencil mouth. Her art teacher has an artist's palette for a face, wears mysterious dark glasses, sports a colorful Mohawk, and wields a paintbrush. The layout encourages a guessing game of sorts as the audience will wonder how and where each object will be incorporated in the portrait. This book is ideal for projects involving descriptive language. Readers can create their own portraits of friends and teachers using various objects and this book as a guide. Use it with Piven's What Presidents Are Made of (2004), What Athletes Are Made of (2006, both S & S), and My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks (Randon, 2007) for classroom or crafting activities.-Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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