Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
Several of these ten short stories about the "humor and pain" of going to school are emotionally satisfying, including Lee Wardlaw's story of a lost opportunity for friendship and David Rice's tale of a school competition. Others seem contrived, suffering from undeveloped plots or straining too hard for humor. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #1
Students will likely see themselves in these 10 appetizing stories about the ups and many downs of school life. The fifth-grade heroine of Angela Johnson's title story is an endearing klutz of epic proportions (she has broken the gym teacher's nose). Avi's narrator misspells his way through an account of how his English teacher foiled a robbery and fell in love with an erudite thief. Three stories touch on the horrors of being saddled with a bad name, including Sarah Weeks's "Experts, Incorporated," in which the hero's name Rodney Curtain is fine until roll is called alphabetically ("Curtain, Rod"). Terry Trueman's tale of a class clown, forced to read aloud a serious poem about war, evokes the sweaty anxiety of waiting to be called on ("The war poems have taught us that it's not a very good idea to `volunteer,' " the narrator says). Humor leavens the weightier issues (reading trouble, social awkwardness, unrequited love) and a few jokes will elicit groans (asked to define "random" in science class, a character in "Science Friction" explains, "There were two squirrels in my driveway, but then my dad random over"). Unfolding in comic book-style panels, James Proimos's droll story, depicting a day-in-the-life of a bungling wiseacre is hilarious. Brief biographical information at the end of each tale reveals that almost every writer's least favorite subject was math. Unlike school cafeteria fare, this inviting buffet has something for everyone. Ages 10-up. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 July
Gr 5-7-This amusing anthology of 10 short stories, by authors such as Avi, Angela Johnson, David Lubar, and Rachel Vail, will resonate with students everywhere. Sarah Weeks's "Experts, Incorporated," explores how a name can lead to horrific nicknames, like that of the protagonist: Curtain, Rod. Readers will cringe at their own inadequacies, sympathize with the embarrassment of the characters, groan at the familiar odor of "fish sticks in the lunchroom," and cheer when the shame of being in "Special Reading" results in self-awareness and new friends. James Proimos's "The Grade School Zone" is a comic-strip story of a boy's Italian grandmother who fractures the English language. Lee Wardlaw's "The Desk" centers on the mystery and magic arising from the seat of an itinerant circus student, and David Rice's "Tied to Zelda" describes a crush on a friend in school. A skillfully written and engaging collection that's sure to be popular.-Rebecca Sheridan, Easttown Library & Information Center, Berwyn, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.