________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 2004


Stuart Goes to School.

Sara Pennypacker. Illustrated by Martin Matje.
New York, NY: Orchard Books (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2003.
58 pp., cloth., $24.99.
ISBN 0-439-30182-3.

Subject Headings:
First day of school-Fiction.
Clothing and dress-Fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Pat Fay.

***½ /4

Stuart, eight, and his family have just moved to Punbury, and it will be Stuart's first day in grade 3 at his new school. Stuart worries about everything. He worries that he might get stuck in the bathroom and firemen will have to come and get him out, but mostly he worries that he won't have any friends. His mother has laid out his clothes, and, when he sees the bright green plaid pants and the shirt with the little cowboys all over it, he is positive he will not have any friends.

Wait a minute. He had a cape now. He had made it last week out of a hundred old ties. Just as he'd hoped, magical things had been happening since he started wearing it. Adventures. A different one each day.

So far, the magical thing of the day had been a surprise. But maybe..

Stuart pointed his brain at the ugly outfit. He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated powerful brain waves on making it disappear. He concentrated hard until he smelled brain-smoke coming from behind his eyes.

The outfit was still there. It looked more horrible than before.

Stuart sighed deeply and got out of bed. He put on the awful clothes and wrapped his cape around himself. One good thing about a cape: At least no one could see what he was wearing underneath. He could go to school in his underwear if he wanted to.

     When he stands up at school to show everyone his cape for "Our Big Interesting World," the third grade name for show-and-tell, and he flips the cape open to show the secret purple pocket inside and realizes that he is only wearing his underwear.

     This short chapter book has three chapters that cover the first three days of grade three. Stuart has a different surprise adventure each day. The print is double-spaced, and each page has an interesting pencil illustration. Stuart is very good at drawing. This humourous book covers the main worries of starting school such as getting lost, getting locked in the bathroom and being rescued by firemen and the main worry, “Will I have any friends?” The book could be enjoyed as a read-aloud (perfect for the first three days of grade three) or as a chapter book read alone.

Highly Recommended.

Pat Fay, a teacher-librarian at Beaumont School in Winnipeg, MB, where she hopes she doesn't get locked in the bathroom.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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