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Back to Front and Upside Down
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Back to Front and Upside Down

5.0 1
by Claire Alexander

It's the principal Mr. Slipper's birthday, and while the rest of the class gets busy writing cards for the occasion, Stan becomes frustrated when his letters come out all in a muddle. Stan is afraid to ask for help, until a friend assures him that nobody's good at everything. And after lots and lots of practice, Stan's letters come out the right way round and the


It's the principal Mr. Slipper's birthday, and while the rest of the class gets busy writing cards for the occasion, Stan becomes frustrated when his letters come out all in a muddle. Stan is afraid to ask for help, until a friend assures him that nobody's good at everything. And after lots and lots of practice, Stan's letters come out the right way round and the right way up.

This delightful book deals with a common childhood frustration and will remind readers that practice pays off and that everyone has to ask for help sometimes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The principal of Stan’s school is having a birthday, and Miss Catnip, Stan’s teacher, has a great thought: everyone is going to make a birthday card for Mr. Slippers. Stan, an adorable brown puppy with floppy ears and an expressive snout, immediately starts drawing an impressive picture—until he learns that Miss Catnip expects everyone to write a greeting as well. Writing is definitely not Stan’s strong suit: “is letters came out back to front and upside down, and some didn’t look like letters at all! I can’t do this! Stan thought.” When Stan hits rock bottom—“Even his name was coming out in a muddle”—he becomes a tiny, disconsolate figure at his desk (his legs don’t even touch the ground), marooned in a black sea of despair. But good advice from his friend Jack (“We all have to ask for help sometimes”) and compassionate help ride to the rescue. It’s not a new idea, but Alexander (Small Florence, Piggy Pop Star) is such a caring and visually sumptuous storyteller that readers will happily travel down this road with her. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

Greatest Books for Kids 
"A wonderful, warm, sympathetic book that addresses the common childhood fear of failure. . . . Provides the encouraging message that everyone needs help sometimes and it's okay to get the help they need."
Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
Soft water color illustrations bring eager preschool students into a birthday celebration for the school principal, Mr. Slippers, which includes a bit of writing. Familiar animal characters bring extra warmth to this charming story while readers discover a valuable lesson and help soften the blow as a student struggles with forming letters properly. Their teacher engineers a surprise project by having the class create individual birthday cards. Everyone busily draws with enthusiasm. With gentle guidance and encouragement, Miss Catnip also has them write "Happy Birthday" by copying from the big display board. Immediately Stan panics. He stares with great concentration as his attempts come out rather strange. What happened to his letters? What should he do? A flood of different emotions causes Stan to worry. No one must know. However, his kind friend Jack reminds Stan that asking for help is a good idea. We all need help and can ask a grownup when things get tough, even when trying to write. Miss Catnip provides loving instruction along with ample time for practice. Stan and his classmates are very proud of their accomplishments during Mr. Slipper's fun birthday party. Thus, key problem solving skills are demonstrated for our youngest learners while going through the rudiments of completing an assignment in this very fine read aloud. Reviewer: Susan Treadway
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Stan, a small anthropomorphic puppy, faces a big problem-his class is making birthday cards for the principal, but he just can't get the hang of writing. He is despondent until a friend suggests that he approach their teacher for help. Gathering up some courage, Stan approaches Miss Catnip and discovers that he's not the only one having trouble. After "lots and lots and lots of practice," Stan's writing improves and he not only creates a great card, but learns that he should always ask for help when he is struggling. Alexander's mostly full-page illustrations of Stan and his animal friends are bright and cheerful. Though cartoonish, they expressively depict the change in Stan's emotions-from isolation and sadness to accomplishment and happiness. The story is a tad didactic, but it teaches a good lesson. Students should have no trouble sympathizing with Stan's learning difficulties and cheer for his success.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A little dog who has trouble with the mechanics of writing musters up the courage to ask his teacher for help. Stan is excited about the birthday cards his class is making for the principal…until Miss Catnip tells them the cards have to include words. He tries his hardest, tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, to copy the words, but they come out "back to front and upside down, and some didn't look like letters at all!" Within the multispecies classroom, Stan sits with a huge clock looming behind him, while a page turn places Stan against a completely black background, beautifully conveying Stan's emotional turmoil and isolation. A friend convinces him to ask Miss Catnip for help, despite his fear that everyone will laugh at him. And when he does, not only does no one laugh, but Mimi turns out to need help as well. After Miss Catnip shows them how to form their letters, one afternoon of practice allows Stan to improve enough to proudly present Mr. Slippers with his birthday card that same school day. The rough "handwritten" type reflects the topic, but it may make it difficult for beginners to read, and certainly should not be emulated by those learning to write--the "r" looks like a "v," and there are some letters that appear to be capitals when the context calls for lowercase. While Stan's improvement is a little too good to be true, Alexander's message is clear: "We all have to ask for help sometimes." (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.50(d)
AD800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Claire Alexander has written and illustrated Lucy and theBully, Small Florence, and Lost in theSnow (all Gullane). She lives in England. Visit Claire'swebsite at www.clairealexan,der.com.

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Back to Front and Upside Down 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
Stan wants to do a great birthday card for Mr. Slippers, the principal. But when he tries to write, his words come out back to front and upside down! Stan is afraid to ask for help because he thinks everyone will laugh at him. What will Stan do? Why I liked this book – First off, the illustrations are CUTE! I love that the kids are animals too, meaning it can be any kid. That is a great message. I like how Stan handles his problem. Jack was a great friend to Stan and I would love it if he was a real person in my grade. I like that this book is a book about a kid that has problems writing. It could be that he has dyslexia or that he is just not as experienced with writing as the other kids. I like that a boy and a girl are having trouble. I like that it shows that girls have trouble too with writing, not just boys. The book also teaches kids to ask for help when they need it and usually there is another person having the same trouble. **NOTE I reviewed a library copy of this book