Thursday, July 06, 2017

Back to School? Second Grade Holdout by Audrey Vernick

I was a lot of things in first grade.

Star of the Day.

Unable to sit still (according to Ms. Morgan).

In the same class as my best friend, Tyler.

Tyler and I were pretty much kings of the twisty slide.

But things are not looking so good for second grade. His dad lays down the law about his priorities.

"Your job is to be a good student!" Dad says.

Then our rising second grader finds out that his friend Tyler is assigned to Mrs. Herman's class, while he has Mr. Glazer. It's time for Plan A. He figures he can kinda sneak into Mrs. Herman's class on the first day, incognito. His parents proclaim firmly that's never going to happen. He's underwhelmed with Mom's promise of the excitement of the second-grade field trip to the town jail.

Okay, it's time for Plan B.

Maybe he'll just stay in first grade. First grade has a lot going for it. Ms. Morgan understands him. He'll be, like, Lakeview School's most brilliant first grader ever! And on the zoo trip, he's sure to win the scavenger hunt prize! But, nope! Mom refuses to sign off on Plan B, too.

Second grade sounds like a lot of work. Tyler's two big sisters enthusiastically spell it out in discouraging detail. Sabrina describes the curriculum.

"You have to spell words like rendezvous and platypus. You have to speak Russian by Thanksgiving.

You have to learn the presidents by heart. Forward AND backward. Or you fail."

Tyler's sisters have more bad news. Mr. Glazer loves basketball but Ms. Herman hates it. The boys counter with the consolation that at least they can play ball together at recess.

And then comes the killer. Jacqueline drops the big bomb.

"Mrs Herman doesn't allow recess!" she says.

Hey!Wait! Have Tyler's sisters finally managed to exceed credulity, going one tall tale over the line?

The kings of the twisty slide cannot be tricked!

After all, first grade graduates weren't born yesterday, in Audrey Vernick's latest, Second Grade Holdout (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2017). Author Vernick dramatically paces her page turns perfectly in this second book about the perils of the primary grades, and artist Matthew Cordell frames his skillfully crafted cartoon illustrations in spot-art style, center page, with a mastery of facial expression and body language that pretty much tells the story to perfection in tandem with Vernick's text. Share this one with their 2015 hit for the back-to-school set, First Grade Dropout (see review here.) for a first choice for the first day of school!

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