The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

4.4 24
by Candace Fleming

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Ellen was eight years old and wore bands on her teeth. Her best friend had just moved away and she missed her. Still, as she walked to the Spofford School of the Dance one Saturday, she was almost glad she had no best friend. Best friends do not have secrets from each other, and Ellen had a secret she did not want to share with anyone. But by the time the


Ellen was eight years old and wore bands on her teeth. Her best friend had just moved away and she missed her. Still, as she walked to the Spofford School of the Dance one Saturday, she was almost glad she had no best friend. Best friends do not have secrets from each other, and Ellen had a secret she did not want to share with anyone. But by the time the dancing lesson was over (surely the most devastating dancing lesson on record), Ellen had found a best friend and shared her secret. The best friend was Austine, and the secret was that Ellen was wearing woolen underwear. So was Austine!

This whole book is a cause for rejoicing, for Mrs. Cleary has done it again. Ellen Tebbits is as funny as Henry Huggins. Perhaps it is even funnier. The children who read it will decide for themselves. Louis Darling, who has provided the wonderful illustrations, has already made his decision. He calls it a draw.

Editorial Reviews

New York Herald Tribune
Ellen and her troubles are both funny and touching; we meet her trying to hide her long underwear at dancing school, and playing a substitute rat in `The Pied Piper.' All is told with a downright realism, and the school scenes are choice.
Publishers Weekly

A rowdy group of students and their eccentric teacher star in Fleming's (Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!) collection of determinedly loopy vignettes, each of which ends with an Aesop-like moral. On the day before school opens, the frantic principal still has not found a teacher for the notoriously unruly fourth graders. In walks Mr. Jupiter, whose credentials include working as a translator for Bigfoot, discovering the lost city of Atlantis and studying at the Coochie-Coochie Institute for Misbehaved Monkeys; he is hired on the spot. When he refuses to react to his students' misbehavior, they think up pranks guaranteed to rile him, but no one dares to pull them off (moral: "It is one thing to talk about it, another to do it"). In another tale, a boy who is struggling with math wishes he were back in kindergarten, where tasks were easier, but then is forced to participate in humiliating activities when he goes to help out with the younger class ("Be careful what you wish for-it might come true"). Packed with puns of varying cleverness, the fables range from pithy to protracted, the morals from spot-on to strained. Even with the inconsistencies, there's plenty to laugh at and even to ponder. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Beverly Cleary's delightful peek into a young girl's life (Morrow, 1951) will capture a new audience in audiobook format. Listeners will giggle at third-grader Ellen's trials with both woolen underwear and her nemesis, Otis Spofford. They will sympathize with Ellen's desire to clap erasers, and her travails in acquiring a giant beet. Then there's the whole concept of being a "substitute rat." Through it all, Ellen's friendship with Austine, and their quarrel and eventual reconciliation provide the thread that ties all the events together. You can't listen to this production without laughing out loud. Andrea Martin reads Cleary's text with expression and good humor, creating unique voices for each character. She brings Ellen and her friends to life and makes them shine. Listeners will enjoy the small joys, horrors, and triumphs that make Ellen's life so like their own.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
No teacher wants to teach this year's fourth-grade class at Aesop Elementary. Just as Mrs. Struggles, the principal, is about to give up, Mr. Jupiter appears with a flawlessly huge resume. The class tests him, but he wins them over as the year progresses through these 23 stories. As the title and school's name hint, there's an Aesop connection. Each of the stories has a moral straight out of a fable. Calvin's troubles with math lead him to wish he was back in unproblematic kindergarten. He becomes the class helper in a class of Stepford kids to the tune of "be careful what you wish for." In another, librarian-wait for it-Ms. Paige Turner uses the lure of International Geographic to teach Lenny and Bruce the Dewey Decimal System: "necessity is the mother. . . . " Here's Sideways Stories from Wayside School married to Aesop. Despite a Dewey error and some humor over the head of the target audience, this is a winner, and the final story seems to promise a fifth-grade sequel. (Fiction. 7-11)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Aesop Elementary School Series
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ellen's Secret

Ellen Tebbitswas in a hurry. As she ran down Tillamook Street with her ballet slippers tucked under her arm, she did not even stop to scuff through the autumn leaves on the sidewalk. The reason Ellen was in a hurry was a secret she would never, never tell.

Ellen was a thin little girl, with dark hair and brown eyes. She wore bands on her teeth, and her hair was scraggly on the left side of her face, because she spent so much time reading and twisting a lock of hair around her finger as she read. She had no brothers or sisters and, since Nancy Jane had moved away from next door, there was no one her own age living on Tillamook Street.

So she had no really best friend. She did not even have a dog or cat to play with, because her mother said animals tracked in mud and left hair on the furniture.

Of course Ellen had lots of friends at school, but that was not the same as having a best friend who lived in the same neighborhood and could come over to play after school and on Saturdays. Today, however, Ellen was almost glad she did not have a best friend, because best friends do not have secrets from one another. She was sure she would rather be lonely the rest of her life than share the secret of why she had to get to her dancing class before any of the other girls.

The Spofford School of the Dance was upstairs over the Payless Drugstore. When Ellen came to the entrance at the side of the building, she paused to look anxiously up and down the street. Then, relieved that she saw no one she knew, she scampered up the long flight of steps as fast as she could run. There was not a minute towaste.

She pushed open the door and looked quickly around the big, bare room. Maybe her plan was really going to work after all. She was the first pupil to arrive.

Ellen's teacher, Valerie Todd Spofford, was looking at some music with Mrs. Adams, the accompanist, at the piano in the comer of the room.

She was really Mrs. John Spofford and had a son named Otis, who was in Ellen's room at school. Because she taught dancing, people did not call her Mrs. John Spofford. They called her by her full name, Valerie Todd Spofford.

"Good afternoon, Ellen," she said. "You're early."

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Spofford," answered Ellen, and hurried past the long mirrors that covered one wall.

When Ellen opened the dressing-room door, she made a terrible discovery. Someone was in the dressing room ahead of her.

Austine Allen was sitting on a bench lacing her ballet slippers. Austine was a new girl, both in the dancing class and in Ellen's room at school. Ellen knew she had just come 'from California, because she mentioned it so often. She thought the new girl looked good-natured and untidy, but she really had not paid much attention to her.

"Oh," said Ellen. "Hello. I didn't know anyone was here."

I guess I'm early," said Austine and then added, "but so are you."

The girls looked at each other. Ellen noticed that Austine had already changed into the required costume of the Spofford School of the Dance. This was a short full skirt of tulle gathered onto a sateen top that had straps over the shoulders. Austine looked chubby in her green costume.

Neither girl spoke. Oh, why doesn't she leave, thought Ellen desperately. Maybe if I wait long enough she'll go into the other room. Ellen removed her jacket as slowly as she could. No, I canwait. The others will be here any minute.

This is a silly costume we have to wear , said Austine. "When I took ballet lessons in California we always wore shorts and T shirts."

"Well, I think it's pretty" said Ellen, as she took her pink costume from the rack along the wall. Why don't you go away, she thought. She said, "It's almost like real ballerinas wear. When I'm wearing it, I pretend I'm a real dancer."

Austine stood up. "Not even real ballerinas practice in full skirts like these. They wear leotards. In California..."

"Well, I think leotards are ugly," interrupted Ellen, who was glad she knew that leotards were long tight-fitting garments. "They look just like long underwear and I wouldn't wear one for anything. I like our dresses better."

"I don't," said Austine flatly. I don't even like dancing lessons. At least in California.

"I don't care what anybody does in California," said Ellen crossly. "I'm tired of hearing you talk about California and so is everyone at school. So there! If you think California is so wonderful, why don't you go back there?"

For a second Austine looked hurt. Ellen almost thought she was going to cry. Instead she made a face. "All right for you!"' she said, and flounced out of the dressing room, leaving her clothes in an untidy heap on the bench.

Instantly Ellen was sorry. What a terrible thing to say to a new girl! What if she herself were a new girl and someone had said that to her? How would she have felt? She hadn't really meant to be rude,, but somehow it had slipped out. She was so anxious to have Austine leave that she had not thought about what she was saying.

But now that Austine was gone and Ellen was alone, there was not a moment to waste, not even in feeling sorry for what she had done. Feverishly she unbuttoned her sweater. She was starting to unfasten her dress when she heard some of the girls coming through the classroom.

Frantically Ellen looked around the dressing room for a place to hide. She darted behind the costume rack. No, that wouldn't do. The girls might see her when they took down their costumes...

Ellen Tebbits. Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the prolific author of many critically acclaimed, bestselling books for children, including the picture books Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! (an ALA Notable Book and four starred reviews), and Boxes for Katie (a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2003); the nonfiction titles Our Eleanor (an ALA Notable Book, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and three starred reviews) and Ben Franklin's Almanac (an ALA Notable Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, James Madison Honor Book, and three starred reviews). She lives in Mt. Prospect, Illinois.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
keith buckley More than 1 year ago
I read this book 15 times!!!! It is so good! Im on the sequel. I love Candace Flemming. Thank you Candace Flemming for writing this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SO FUNNY!!! Victoria is hilarious
Anthony Schulz More than 1 year ago
Candace Flemming is one of my few favorite published authors. I got this sample and a sample of the second book in the series. I couldn't put it down! A total must read! Great for kids age 11 and up.
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You must read this book or else If ther were more stars i would put 100,000,000,000 Thats hiw much i loved this book
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Heeheehoohoohaha Pancake smoothie i want a doughnut.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definately 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg! A must read! I recommened it! For all you people that have not read this book! Read it NOW!!! Only 6 bucks! Peace out suckas!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so funny I was on the floor laughing. I recommend this book to all fourth graders and i hope you all enjoy this amazing book. I to hope you all will be on the floor laughing. This was one of my all time favorites, i hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My boyfreind is sooooo cute