Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, By Candace Fleming, 170 pages.
@ SPL: J FIC Flemi

Take a class of fifth graders, all of whom have been described by their former teachers as “high energy” and “rambunctious” (sometimes words are simply inadequate….), and add an inspiring teacher, some unusual but very talented class pets (singing guinea pigs) and an extraordinary classroom (complete with a collection of shrunken heads). The result is Mr. Jupiter’s (fabled) Grade 5 class at Aesop Elementary School.

Mr. Jupiter, himself quite an individual, is the only teacher who dares to teach this class of fifth-graders. Not only does he teach them, however, he inspires them too! Mr. Jupiter loves to teach, and he knows that his students have all sorts of hidden talents and strengths. (He’s confident that some of these talents and attributes will actually reveal themselves someday!)

While Mr. Jupiter’s curriculum and methods of teaching are quite unusual, to say the least, they are quite successful with his equally unusual students. The fifth graders are quite proud of their classroom … from the Lunuganga pig masks decorating one corner of the room, to the shrunken head collection in another corner and the Egyptian sarcophagus in yet another corner … and the skull of poor Mrs. Yorick sitting on Mr. Jupiter’s desk.

Yes, everything is extraordinary and nothing is ordinary in the Grade 5 classroom at Aesop Elementary School! Readers will chuckle and guffaw as they join in the antics and silliness of these fifth-graders (who are definitely in “a class of their own”), as revealed in these hilarious “fables” – each complete with a moral.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 11.

The Detention Club, By David Yoo, 299 pages.
@ SPL: J FIC Yoo

From the expressive picture on the front cover – which portrays the glum faces of the five Detention Club members – to the story’s end, David Yoo’s latest book is a rollicking, laugh-out-loud portrayal of sixth grade as experienced by Peter Lee and his best friend, Drew. It’s September, and the two boys are finding the adjustment to their new school, Fenwick Middle School, to be rather difficult. Most of their former classmates have gone to a different school.

Fenwick is full of strange faces, and Peter and Drew aren’t even in the same class. For some reason, they’re being labelled by their new classmates as “nerds” and are even being picked on by a couple of boys. Peter’s having trouble keeping up with his schoolwork (for the first time in his life), and he’s not getting along with his older sister, Sunny.

To complicate the situation, someone is snitching things from both students and teachers at Fenwick. Then Peter has a serious (and entirely preventable) “mishap” with a science experiment and is given a detention every day for a whole month! Now Peter is a part of an “elite” school club: the Detention Club! As the month passes, the members of the Detention Club decide to discover the identity of the school thief.

As they work together, their search leads from one suspect to another … and from one comical surprise to another. The Detention Club is a thoroughly entertaining tale with some very worthwhile messages about friendship, honesty, sibling rivalry and peer pressure.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on September 6th, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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