Do You Miss Going to School?

          My answer to my question is: No, I do not miss school.  Life has been a much more interesting and informative school for me.          

         With some exceptions, I was not a good student until I got to college, and even then it took me a few years to really put my nose to the grind stone. I don’t take tests well and I prefer to learn on my own. Plus, I had a poor self image, which made me think that people wouldn’t like me. When I got to college I realized most everybody else was feeling shy and uncertain, so I started being the first one to speak in a group. Has anyone else had these experiences?

            The books for this week all have a theme of dealing with school. Hope you enjoy the selections and please let me know what you think.



            The first entry is a picture book designed to teach children how to deal with the dynamics of making friends. I thought it was sweetly done.


First Day at Zoo School

Sarah Dillard

Illustrated by Sarah Dillard

            Amanda, the panda, is very excited about starting school, but Alfred, the alligator, is not. But Amanda changes her tune when she gets to the school yard. Except for her, everyone has a best friend. She’s sad until she sees Alfred standing by himself. Ah ha! A best friend for the panda. Alfred is not quite as happy about the whole thing, in part because Amanda calls him Gator, instead of Alfred, and in part because Amanda is very bossy. She loves to sit up front, but the alligator is sure he’s going to be called on by the teacher. At lunch he tries to hide, but Amanda finds him. The panda bosses Alfred all day long, but when she announces at the end of the school day that best friends always walk home together, alligator yells at her. He tells her he’s not walking from school with her and he’s not her best friend and his name is Alfred. Amanda is crushed and Alfred feels awful. The next day our panda friend is downhearted. She’s lost her spark, Amanda tells the teacher. She and Alfred don’t speak all day long, until the alligator worries about the panda hurting herself while hanging upside down from a tree. He tells her to come down because they can’t be best friends if her head bursts. And the two are best friends again, but good ones. The illustrations are funny in the right parts, especially when Amanda’s question while she’s hanging from the tree is written upside down. A good story to encourage children to be polite, caring and not bossy which children will want to read or hear over and over.

BIBLIO: 2014, Sleeping Bear Press, Ages 4 to 6, $14.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-5836-890-7




            Children all have to learn to get along, either by speaking up for themselves against a bully or an overly bold child, or not being the bully or pushy child. This book gives many discussion points for teachers and students.


Willow Finds a Way

Lana Button

Illustrated by Tania Howells

      Like most children, Willow wishes she could say to “no” to bossy Kristabelle who wants everything to go her way. But like the other children in her class, Willow always caves to Kristabelle’s orders. When Kristabelle invites her classmates to her “fantastic” birthday party, Willow is overjoyed to be included. But soon, Kristabelle demands the children sit with her at snack time or they’ll be uninvited. She wants them to watch only what she is doing and to wear only pink, but when she decides she should be first in line when it’s not her turn, Mateo reminds her it’s his turn. He gets his name scratched off her list. Willow is upset by Kristabelle’s actions, but she doesn’t know how make her bossy classmate stop. Then Julian doesn’t wear pink and gets his name scratched off the list. Willow knows Kristabelle is being mean, but is too afraid to say so. After she frets about the problem more, she comes up with the solution. She picks up the birthday list and scratches off her own name. The other children gasp and then follow suit. No-one is coming to Kristabelle’s birthday party and then no-one sits with her a snack time or watches her do her amazing tricks on the jungle-gym and she stands at the end of the line. Willow declines a spot next to her friend Jane and stands with Kristabelle instead. Kristabelle apologizes and then whispers something to their teacher. Having learned her lesson, the no longer bossy girl rips up her invitation list and invites all her classmates to her party. She even says please. Children will relate to the problem in this sweetly told story and teachers can use it as a platform to talk about manners and behavior.

BIBLIO: 2013, Kids Can Press Ltd., Ages 5 to 8, $16.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-1-55453-842-3




            We’re still in elementary school, be we’ve advanced to the fourth grade in this book. The theme is to learn to get along and forgive.


Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Blast from the Past

Meg Cabot

      Allie is now in fourth grade at a new school and trying to prove herself responsible enough to own a cell phone—after all she’s saved a total $36 from doing chores and helping her neighbors. Her parents say the rule is she could have her own cell phone in sixth grade, if she’s proved herself responsible by not losing things or not leaving her coat and book bag on the floor. Two whole years away! Plus she has other things to worry about: her cat, Mewsie, is hiding in a hole in the wall of her brother’s room; her wonderful teacher is probably getting married and moving away; and she has to go on a boring field trip and share the bus with the kids from her old school—including her ex-best friend, Mary Kate, who is now hanging out with the snobby “cool” girls. Turns out the field trip isn’t as boring as Allie thought; her teacher is getting married, but not moving; Mary Kate is now her friend again, sort of; Mewsie leaves the hole on his own; and Mom says Allie may have cell phone in fifth grade. Allie is a spunky girl and her antics are amusing, but she sure is repetitive. I’m not sure we readers need to be reminded in each chapter of how obnoxious Mary Kate has been, or that Allie’s teacher’s boyfriend threw rocks at the school window, or that Allie missed going on the last field trip because of Mary Kate.

BIBLIO: 2010, Scholastic Press/Scholastic, Inc., Ages 7 to 9, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-0-545-04048-8


2 thoughts on “Do You Miss Going to School?

  1. Sarah,
    Why do you think the middle grade book kept reminding readers of Mary Kate’s earlier obnoxious behaviors? Was it written as a reflection by Allie? Willow Finds a Way sounds like it could be a chapter book. What do you think? First Day at Zoo School–a funny title, since school can be a zoo. I’d like to see that one. I’m glad you found it humorous. Funny sells too.

  2. Hi Linda, thanks for your questions. I’d be happy to send you the Zoo School one. I still have it. I read the Allie Finkle book 4 years ago, so I’m not sure, but I think it’s just part of the author’s style. I also reviewed the earlier book in the series.

    I’ll get back to you shortly on your picture book revisions.

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