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Early Reader


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Brand-new Early Reader edition of Francesca Simon's Spider School with new full-colour illustrations from Tony Ross.

About the Author

Francesca Simon worked for 12 years as a freelance arts journalist, writing for the Sunday times, and The Guardian amongst others. Francesca wrote her first children's book in 1989 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. She lives in London with her husband and son. Francesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She now lives in London with her family. She has written over 50 books and won THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR at the Galaxy British Book Awards for HORRID HENRY AND THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN. Visit Francesca's website at and keep up-to-date with Horrid Henry at You can also follow her on Twitter @simon_francesca Tony Ross is one of the most popular and successful of all children's illustrators, with many picture books to his name. He has also produced line drawings for many fiction titles.


K-Gr 2‘On the day that she is starting school, Kate does something she's never done before‘she gets up on the wrong side of the bed. Not only is she grumpy, but she is also late. True to bad-dream form, all her new clothes are gone, and she must squeeze into last year's. Surrounded by an eerie gray aura, she and her mother run down the deserted street to her school, which looks like a dungeon festooned with spiders and snakes. The kids wander the halls in a zombielike trance. When Kate finally finds her room, she is greeted by a massive gorilla who calls her "knucklehead" and escorts her into a bare classroom where glassy-eyed children huddle. Young readers will love the gross cafeteria scene in which Kate starts a revolt. Suddenly, the palette brightens and she wakes up in her own room, cheerful and on time. After her dream, her school and teacher seem ideal, and her friend is waiting for her in the book corner. Coplans's watercolor art complements the humorous text with zany aspects of its own‘the gorilla teacher has red fingernails and a demure string of pearls around her beastly neck. The endpapers feature rows of plates brimming with ghastly delights from the nightmare lunchroom. An enjoyable story for children who have already had a positive school experience‘preschoolers may have serious qualms!‘Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA

Anxious about her first day at a new school, a girl named Kate opens her eyes to an overcast, gray-green morning and grumpily gets up on the wrong side of bed. All her new clothes are missing, so she has to wear a ``dirty old skirt,'' mismatched shirt and baggy socks. She proceeds (late, of course) to a gloomy school that resembles a dungeon, and she enters a book-free classroom ruled by an ill-tempered gorilla. As for the cafeteria, the title indicates what's on the menu. Simon (The Topsy-Turvies) and Coplans (Cat and Dog) exaggerate the absurdity, lessening the tension with nutty scenarios: the gorilla-teacher, adorned in a pearl necklace, reads herself a comic-book romance called Going Ape. The author also resolves the situation with ease. Kate jumps back in bed and, when she reawakens, gets out of the right side of bed. This time she finds a sunny morning, a restored wardrobe and a welcoming elementary school. Coplans conjures a Halloweenish atmosphere with mildly creepy cartoons. Kate's nightmare school involves dazed-looking children, cobwebby hallways and bleary aqua-and-charcoal shadows; the girl knows her real school by its smiling students and the unmuddied palette. The lesson about the value of a positive attitude gains force by the mildness of its delivery and by the author and artist's dead-on aim at classic back-to-school fears. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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