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First Grade Stinks!

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PreS-Gr 1-In this Special Appearance Video, Mary Ann Rodman introduces her book (Peachtree, 2006) by recalling her excitement at the prospect of starting kindergarten and first grade. Haley shows a similar enthusiasm as she begins first grade, and she and her friends are thrilled by their new independence. Her exuberance is short-lived, however, as she learns that her new teacher is not exactly like her beloved kindergarten teacher, her classroom is positively stark compared to her former room, and the students don't get to enjoy any of the fun activities that delighted them last year like picture books and sharing time. As the disappointments mount, the little girl privately repeats that "first grade stinks." The day is especially hard on Haley because Ms. Gray doesn't appreciate her creative coloring, criticizes her writing, and corrects her behavior. Finally, Haley explodes and screams her mantra to the class. When the teacher gently explains that first graders need to work harder so that they can learn to read chapter books, "happiness whooshes inside" Haley, and she regains her enthusiasm for school. Beth Spiegel's lively watercolor-and-ink illustrations, which aptly convey the mood of a primary classroom and its students, are scanned iconographically. Youngsters will identify with Haley and her school experience, making this a terrific introduction to first grade, and a good discussion starter.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann Elementary School, Binghamton, NY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information

Nothing can measure up to a beloved kindergarten experience, as the spirited, pig-tailed narrator in this story resolutely comes to believe during her first day of first grade. Haley and her friend Ryan pride themselves on being big kids now. "Little kids stand at the school door, holding their parents' hands. Not Ryan and me. We walk into school all by ourselves." Haley's puffed-up feelings soon deflate, however. Her new teacher, Ms. Gray, gives them only a "tiny smile. Not a sunny-morning smile" like their kindergarten teacher's. The walls are bare, the work is hard and there's only one recess instead of two. "No share time? No dragon kite? No smiley teacher in a daffodil shirt? First grade stinks!" Haley reasons. The pacing of the first-person narration coupled with Spiegel's (Rosa's Room) winsome watercolors keeps this lively tale on track. Comedic spot illustrations contrast Haley's fond remembrances of kindergarten with her disgruntled feelings about first grade. With the help of an understanding Ms. Gray, Haley soon starts to see the up side of being a first-grader. Rodman (My Best Friend) handles the turmoil of school transitions with realism and humor. A good jumping-off book for discussions about differences and change. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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