Ever-Clever Elisa

Ever-Clever Elisa

by Johanna Hurwitz, Debbie Tilley

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Finally...first grade!

Elisa is finally in a grade with a number -- just like her big brother, Russell. Elisa is old enough to take piano lessons, lose a tooth, or make a special Mother's Day breakfast. Sometimes Russell treats her like a baby, but Elisa is making big plans!


Finally...first grade!

Elisa is finally in a grade with a number -- just like her big brother, Russell. Elisa is old enough to take piano lessons, lose a tooth, or make a special Mother's Day breakfast. Sometimes Russell treats her like a baby, but Elisa is making big plans!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Hurwitz continues her Michaels family early reader series with six new stories featuring six-year-old Elisa. From first grade adventures, to a lesson in voting, to negotiations with the tooth fairy, Elisa's easy nature always brings her out on top. Lillian Hoban's black and white illustrations complement these pleasant stories.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3--Elisa is ready to start first grade. She is more independent now that she is six-and-a-half and has friends of her own. She is impressed with her teacher, mimicking her style by applying nail polish. The girl watches enviously as her classmates bring Ms. Lovelace gifts and tries to think up something that will outshine all the others. When she proudly gives her teacher a "glass ring" she borrows from her mother's jewelry box, she learns about stealing and misunderstandings. Elisa has a series of experiences typical to this age. She hunts for her birthday presents ahead of time, only to be disappointed on the big day when none of her gifts are surprises. Writing and story development parallel the quality of Hurwitz's other books featuring the child. Hoban's black-and-white illustrations are rendered in pencil in the same style seen in the earlier installments. The cherubic faces of the girl and her family are adequate but not particularly engaging. First graders, the audience who will most readily identify with this title, will need to have it read aloud to them and may find more humor in the books about Beverly Cleary's Ramona or Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones.--Susan M. Moore, Louisville Free Public Library, KY
Kirkus Reviews
There are few surprises in this outing from Hurwitz (Make Room for Elisa, 1993, etc.), who lays on the lessons with heavy hand and subdues any potential excitement with deadening passive-voice narration: "Books were given out to the students, and the routine was explained." In six short chapters, Elisa attends her first day of first grade, follows her father into a voting booth, counts down to her birthday, celebrates Mother's Day in the wee hours of the morning, swallows a tooth, and enters a raffle. There's enough action to hold interest, but the point of view is occasionally adult, e.g., that Elisa's father loses his vote (by demonstrating how the voting booth works, he casts blanks) is a point that may be lost on children. The characters are a pretty bland bunch, especially given Elisa's "ever-clever" designation, and poor Russell—he has only grudging, walk-on status here. This story is full of good intentions, but lacks energy.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Riverside Kids Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

First Grade

Yippee! Elisa Michaels was in first grade. She was excited to have finally reached this important point in her life. She had gone to nursery school. She had spent a year in kindergarten. Now, at last, she was in a grade with a number — just like her big brother, Russell.

Russell was four years older than Elisa, so he had already been in first grade. He had been in second and third and fourth grade too. Now that Elisa had reached first grade, he was all the way up to fifth.

Elisa and Russell had a baby brother named Marshall. He was so little that he had only a couple of teeth and a little bit of hair. Of course, he didn't go to any school at all.

On the first day of first grade Elisa went to school wearing a new outfit and new sneakers. She had a new backpack to carry home any books and papers that she would get at school. And she had a shiny new lunch box.

The classroom looked familiar. Elisa's kindergarten class had visited the first-grade rooms the year before. She remembered the bulletin board and the plants and the shelf of books all along one wall. There had been a bulletin board and plants and a shelf of books in the kindergarten room too.

What made first grade different was the big chalkboard that covered the whole front of the room. Elisa knew that in first grade her new teacher would write on the board and teach her how to read long words.

Standing at the doorway to greet the first graders was their teacher. "My name is Ms. Lovelace," she told the children.

The teacher's name was beautiful, and she was beautiful too. She had long blond hairthat shook whenever she moved her head. Then Elisa noticed something else. Ms. Lovelace had bright and shiny red polish on her fingernails.

Elisa sat in the seat that Ms. Lovelace assigned to her and studied her own nails. They were the same as always. In fact, her nails looked just like Russell's and Marshall's nails. Girls' nails should be different from boys', she realized.

The first day of first grade was very busy. Books were given out to the students, and the routine was explained by Ms. Lovelace. At lunchtime the teacher walked with her students to the all-purpose room, where long tables were waiting for them. Elisa ate her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank the milk in her thermos. She talked with the other students at the table.

"I like Ms. Lovelace," she said.

"Me too," said a girl named Sophie.

"Me too," said a boy named Sam.

"She is beautiful," remarked a girl named Amanda.

Elisa looked down at her hands where some grape jelly had dripped from her sandwich. She licked the jelly from her fingers. "I wish I had nail polish," she said.

"Me too," said the girl named Sophie.

"Me too," said the girl named Amanda.

"Nail polish? Yuck!" said the boy named Sam.

In the afternoon Mrs. Michaels was standing outside the building with Marshall inside his baby carriage when Elisa got out of school.

"How was first grade?" asked Elisa's mother.

"Could I get some nail polish?" Elisa asked.

"Nail polish? What do you need that for?" asked Mrs. Michaels. "Are you doing an art project?"

"Not for an art project. For my nails," Elisa explained. How could her mother be so silly?

"You don't need nail polish," said her mother. "I don't wear any."

"That's because you're an old mother," said Elisa. "Ms. Lovelace, my teacher, wears nail polish. I want to wear it too."

It took three days of nagging until Mrs. Michaels broke down and bought a little bottle of pink nail polish and applied it to Elisa's fingernails. On Friday morning when Elisa got to school, she noticed that every single girl in her first-grade class was wearing nail polish now too.

Elisa was proud to have her fingernails resemble those of her teacher, because she liked Ms. Lovelace so much. The teacher smiled at the children often, and she had a lovely voice. When she read stories aloud to the class, it was like listening to a beautiful princess in a fairy tale.

On the second Monday of September, Amanda came to school with a bag of apples for Ms. Lovelace and the class. "I went to the country over the weekend," Amanda explained to the teacher.

"This is a wonderful treat for all of us. Thank you," Ms. Lovelace said. She bent down and hugged Amanda.

Elisa wished she had brought a wonderful treat for everyone too.

The next day Sophie came to school carrying a big bouquet of flowers for Ms. Lovelace. "Oh, how beautiful!" the teacher exclaimed. She bent down and gave Sophie a hug. Then she found a vase for the flowers and put them on her desk.

Elisa wished she had brought flowers for Ms. Lovelace too. She wondered what she could possibly give her teacher to show her how much she liked her.

That evening Elisa's parents were going out to a concert. Elisa watched as her mother got dressed for the occasion. Mrs. Michaels opened her jewelry box and took out some earrings. Elisa looked in the jewelry box and admired the bracelets, pins, and rings that belonged to her mother.

She tried on one of the rings. It was much too big for any of her fingers, and it even slid off her thumb.

"Why don't you ever wear this?" she asked her

mother. The ring had a piece of shiny glass in the middle.

"I used to wear it," Mrs. Michaels explained. "But I discovered that it scratched Russell when he was a baby. And of course I didn't want to scratch you or Marshall either. So I haven't worn it in a long time."

Elisa watched her mother put the ring back into her jewelry box.

Meet the Author

Johanna Hurwitz is the award-winning author of more than sixty popular books for young readers, including Faraway Summer; Dear Emma; Elisa Michaels, Bigger & Better; Class Clown; Fourth-Grade Fuss; and Rip-Roaring Russell, an American Library Association Notable Book. Her work has won many child-chosen state awards. A former school librarian, she frequently visits schools around the country to talk about her books. Mrs. Hurwitz and her husband divide their time between Great Neck, New York, and Wilmington, Vermont.

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