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Back to School Books (page 3)

— Parents' Choice Foundation
Updated on May 2, 2014

The Report Card The Report Card Ages: 8 - 12 yrs. Author: Andrew Clements   Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (Hard Cover)    Nora discovers that she is a genius, but she is only a baby. She hates attention, however, so she spends all her time, right up through fifth-grade, pretending to be average of course she's a genius at it. Her best friend Steven has a harder time at school, and Nora decides to make him feel better by getting a lousy report card, which she precedes to do. Steven is shocked, her parents are dismayed, and unintended consequences begin to ricochet. 

The School Story Ages: 8 - 12 yrs. Author: Andrew Clements   Illustrator: Brian Selznick   Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.00 (Hard Cover)    Natalie and Zoe have been best friends since kindergarten; now they are in the sixth grade at a private school in New York City. Natalie, whose mother is a children's book editor, is the observer and writer; Zoe, whose father is a big-city lawyer, is the talker and the planner of this spunky duo. When Natalie writes an exceptional story, Zoe moves into action. She uses a pen name so she can submit the manuscript to Natalie's mother. The author makes this funny, implausible venture into the world of publishing plausible. 

Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger Ages: 8 - 12 yrs. Author: Louis Sachar   HarperCollins Childrens Books, $15.95 (Hard Cover)    Surely, Wayside School was already strange enough. The builders built a thirty-story school sideways with the rooms piled one on top of another - except for the nineteenth floor where Miss Zarves teaches class. There is no nineteenth floor, and there is no Miss Zarves. Nevertheless, there is a thirteenth floor where nice Mrs. Jewls presides over her eccentric pupils. Mrs. Jewls, however, takes a maternity leave. Before she returns with her little stranger, Wayside School gets a little stranger. While reading this ridiculously funny book, children will not only be laughing, they will be learning. 

Ninjas, Pirhanas & Galileo Ages: 9 - 11 yrs. Author: Greg Leitich Smith   Little, Brown & Co., $15.95 (Hard Cover)    "The Gloriana Biddulph Memorial Science Fair Gold Medal is considered one of the Peshtigo School's prestige awards, and it's very weird that so many people take it seriously," says Elias, a Peshtigo seventh grader. He himself doesn't do science fairs; that is until his own father is asked to be the chief judge. And so begins the story of three friends who had long ago united themselves against the powers that be. Elias who, recalling one of the prime commandments of modern science: "thou shall obtain experimental confirmations," knew he had his science fair project. He would re-do one previously recorded (and highly lauded) experiment from the school archives to see if it was right. 

Leon and the Spitting Image Leon and the Spitting Image Ages: 9 - 11 yrs. Author: Allen Kurzweil   Illustrator: Bret Bertholf   HarperCollins Children's Books / Amistad, $15.99 (Hard Cover)    Leon doesn't quite yet know that he will survive the fourth grade. His classmates, he himself, and we the readers are even less certain about his surviving the new teacher, Miss Hagemeyer. She's a supernaturally strict teacher with ears that resemble giant rotting mushrooms. And then there is Leon's archenemy, Lumpkin the Pumpkin, a human tank with a deadly dodgeball throw known to all as the sidewinder. Leon is a good read. Reluctantly Alice

Reluctantly Alice Ages: 9 - 12 yrs. Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor   Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.00 (Hard Cover)    $4.99 (Paperback) Alice has reluctantly entered junior high school where she finds herself demoted (along with all the other seventh graders) to the bottom of the junior high pecking order. She is determined to like school and be liked by her peers, so she is chagrined to find herself the favorite target of an older student, Denise "Mack-Truck" Whitlock. With crystal-clear recall of the horrors of junior high and with generous humor, Phyllis Naylor continues the career of the intelligent thoroughly likable Alice. Wayside School Is Falling Down

 Wayside School Is Falling Down Ages: 9 - 12 yrs. Author: Louis Sachar   Illustrator: Adam McCauley   Harper Collins , $11.19 (Hard Cover)    Wacky Wayside School is unique. Built sideways, with thirty rooms piled atop each other, it lacks a nineteenth story because the builder forgot it. It provides a perfect setting for a long litany of nutty disasters. In the first book, Sharri falls asleep and rolls out the window; Joe counts all wrong and gets the right answers; Calvin is sent to deliver a note to the missing nineteenth floor. Kids will get hooked on the broad humor and twisted logic of these loosely connected stories. Who could resist the teacher in the second book who throws the computer out the window to demonstrate gravity? And who will be surprised that Wayside School's fire drill is announced by a cowbell? When it sounds, the school promptly fills with cows.

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