A Fine, Fine School

( 8 )

Overview

One day, Mr. Keene called all the students and teachers together and said, "This is a fine, fine school! From now on, let's have school on Saturdays too." And then ...

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Overview

One day, Mr. Keene called all the students and teachers together and said, "This is a fine, fine school! From now on, let's have school on Saturdays too." And then there was more.

School all weekend.

School on the holidays.

School in the SUMMER!

What was next . . .

SCHOOL AT NIGHT?



So it's up to Tillie to show her well-intentioned principal, Mr. Keene, that even though his fine, fine school is a wonderful place, it's not fine, fine to be there all the time.

When a principal loves his school so much that he wants the children to attend classes every day of the year, it is up to his students to show him free time is a good thing, too.

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Editorial Reviews

BookPage.com
Charming, rhythmical and humorous.
From The Critics
Teachers and students will cheer at this funny story about a real problem in modern education. Tillie likes school, but she also likes her weekends playing with her younger brother and dog. However, her enthusiastic principal believes that, since school is so beneficial, more school days would be even better for kids. The principal decides to add Saturdays to the schedule, then Sundays and so on, until Tillie opens his eyes to the value of playing and learning things outside of school. The illustrations are the perfect complement to this gentle satire about education run amok. <%END%>
Publishers Weekly
Given current battles over standardized testing and summer sessions, this timely story about extended schooling touches a nerve with a kindly delivery. The tale centers on Mr. Keene, a good-intentioned but zealous principal, and Tillie, a studious girl who spends free time teaching her little brother to skip and climb trees. When strolling the school hallways, Mr. Keene beams, "Aren't these fine students? Aren't these fine teachers? Isn't this a fine, fine school?" He so adores education that he schedules classes for weekends, then holidays, then summers, too. Tillie's low-key home life is transformed. She checks her watch and lugs a giant briefcase off to class, despite her lonely brother's imploring looks. Meanwhile, Mr. Keene exclaims, "How much we will learn!" He doesn't notice the gasps and grimaces of his stressed-out students and teachers. Creech (Love That Dog) styles the principal as proud of his scholars and staff, but shows how his drastic measures diminish quality of life. New Yorker cartoonist Bliss, in an impressive debut, foregrounds the core drama between Tillie and the principal, yet also develops secondary characters among Tillie's overwhelmed classmates (toting books called Really Hard Math and The Meaning of Life) and her precocious dog, Beans (calmly enjoying the "Arts and Leisure" section); comic thought balloons, clever book titles and expressive faces contribute to the tale's success. In the end, Tillie politely convinces Mr. Keene that he has been unreasonable. With quiet intensity, Creech and Bliss persuasively argue one side of a volatile issue. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
"This timely story about extended schooling touches a nerve with a kindly delivery," said PW in a starred review. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Principal Keene is so pleased with the learning of his fine, fine children, teachers and school that he decrees school on Saturdays. Tillie, who has enjoyed the weekends with her dog and brother, has to go along. Then he decides they need school on Sundays;and the following month on all holidays;and then all summer long. No one knows quite how to tell him how unhappy they are, for he is so proud of their frenetic accomplishments. It takes Tillie to make him realize there are other things children need to learn to grow. The story is full of fun, but also of the truth in the pressure on students these days. Bliss's intensely colored, cartoon-like scenes deliciously oppose the deadpan text. An art class has students making a huge papier-mâchédinosaur, writing "cubism" and "impressionism" on the board and reading a book on Picasso;Tillie's dog has glasses on while reading the New York Times. Labels everywhere provoke giggles in the full and double-page scenes of frantic activity. 2001, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewer:Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-This charming tale by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins, 2003) tells of an exuberant principal who is so pleased with his student's achievements that he extends the school day to include weekends, holidays, and the summer. A young student, Tillie, convinces him that there are important things that kids can learn outside the classroom as well. Perhaps it is not so fine to be at school all of the time. Harry Bliss, a New Yorker cartoonist as well as the book's illustrator, narrates this story. His reading is energetic, and his voice is clear and enjoyable. Appealing sound effects add to the story, such as school bells ringing and children cheering. On side one of the cassette the story is told with page signals; the second side tells an uninterrupted version of the tale. The page signal consists of the actual sound of a page turning, and may be difficult for young listeners to discern, along with the many varied sound effects. This book and tape set is certain to be a popular addition in public and school libraries.-Maren Ostergard, Bellevue Regional Library, King County Library System, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-This charming tale by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins, 2003) tells of an exuberant principal who is so pleased with his student's achievements that he extends the school day to include weekends, holidays, and the summer. A young student, Tillie, convinces him that there are important things that kids can learn outside the classroom as well. Perhaps it is not so fine to be at school all of the time. Harry Bliss, a New Yorker cartoonist as well as the book's illustrator, narrates this story. His reading is energetic, and his voice is clear and enjoyable. Appealing sound effects add to the story, such as school bells ringing and children cheering. On side one of the cassette the story is told with page signals; the second side tells an uninterrupted version of the tale. The page signal consists of the actual sound of a page turning, and may be difficult for young listeners to discern, along with the many varied sound effects. This book and tape set is certain to be a popular addition in public and school libraries.-Maren Ostergard, Bellevue Regional Library, King County Library System, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
School can be peachy, but that doesn't mean time away from school isn't just as valuable, which is the lesson Principal Keene has to learn in this charming story of a school administrator utterly rapt in his job. Mr. Keene just can't get enough of his fine school with all that fine learning being taught by the fine teachers to the fine students. So he decides to have school on Saturday, then Sunday, then on holidays, then the whole year through: "He was so proud of the students and the teachers, of all the learning they were doing every day." Literally. But the students and teachers aren't so sanguine about the situation, though no one wanted to prick Mr. Keene's balloon. Until Tillie finally tells him that some others are not learning because of all the school, like her dog, who hasn't learned how to sit, or her little brother, who hasn't learned how to swing or skip, because she's never home to teach them. Indeed, she hasn't learned to climb a tree for all the classroom time she's been putting in. Mr. Keene sees the light, beveling his enthusiasm and putting his good intentions into perspective. Creech's text capably moves the story forward, but it has all the humor of a stoat and the repetitions are overmuch. Yet Bliss ("Girl of the Shining Mountain", 1999, etc.) comes through not just to save the day, but to make the story memorable, with appealing characters and numerous silly sight gags and verbal asides, like the post-it notes that read "Massive Quiz Saturday" and "Power Nap 2 pm," the photo in the kid's locker from his parents signed "We Miss You Son!" and the TV screen that reads "The Best Cartoons in the World Start in 5 Minutes!!" just as Tillie is shuffling out the doorto school on Christmas. Just fine. "
ALA Booklist (starred review)
“This book has it all.”
BookPage.com
“Charming, rhythmical and humorous.”
ALA Booklist
"This book has it all."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060007287
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/23/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 41,092
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.92 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Creech
Sharon Creech is the Newbery Medal-winning author of Walk Two Moons. Her other novels include The Wanderer, a Newbery Honor Book, Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing The Ghost. She has also written two picture books, A Fine, Fine School and Fishing In The Air. After spending eighteen years teaching and writing in Europe, Sharon Creech and her husband have returned to the United States to live.

Harry Bliss is an award-winning cartoonist and cover artist for The New Yorker magazine. "Each day, I pick up my son, Alex, from school," Bliss says. "I always get a kick out of the expressions of exhilaration on the kids' faces when the bell rings, sending them off and running. But it's so cold here in northen Vermont that most of the kids head straight home to a fine, fine cup of hot chocolate."

Good To Know

In her interview with Barnes & Noble.com, Creech shared some fun facts about herself:

"One of my most interesting jobs was in graduate school, working with the Federal Theatre Project archives (a Library of Congress collection, then based at George Mason University). I catalogued original illustrations for set and costume designs, some by Orson Welles. It was fascinating work!"

"I once fell 20 feet from a tree, was knocked unconscious, and when I picked myself up and straggled home, my parents thought I was making it up. However, when my brother and I fabricated a story about an encounter with a bear, they believed that! So maybe I learned very early on that fiction was more interesting to listeners!"

"As readers can probably tell from my books, I love the outdoors. I love to hike, kayak, and swim. I also love to read (which is probably not a surprise) and I love the theater and art museums. I especially love all the instruments of art: inks, pens, paintbrushes, watercolors and oils, fine papers and canvases, and although I love to mess around with these tools and objects, I have minimal artistic skills."

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    1. Hometown:
      Pennington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 29, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cleveland, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    A VERY GOOD BOOK

    i read this book with my grandma whos a pricipal and we both loved it!!!!! we are now reading all of her other books. my favorite is WALK 2 MOONS!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2002

    Cute!

    I thought that this book was really cute and I liked it a lot. It has got a really good plot and younger kids would love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    A Fine, Fine Book

    I bought this book at the Illinois Reading Conference in Springfield, Illinois for my son who is 8 years old. It has quickly become a family favorite! A great lesson is taught in being careful with what you wish for because you never know how it might affect others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2001

    a perfect read aloud book!

    A terrific book if you love to see kids respond to text. School 365 days a year! My kids were in an uproar over this one. The pictures are nothing short of brilliant too -- many sight gags for all. One of the best of the year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2001

    So True

    This is a 'fine,fine' book. The illutrations are fantastic. The story really touches upon an issue that is seriously affecting our schools and students today. Sometimes we ask and expect so much from them academically that we forget they have other types of learning they need to do. Tillie is a very personable and mature young lady. I highly recommend this book. It evokes alot of thought about the simple things...what are you forgetting to learn?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2001

    Fine, Fine Illustrations

    This is the perfect book for adults, children and especially educators. Too much school like too many standardized tests translate to real life learning lost. This book states the truth about how good and wrong schools can be and it is done in a simple way. Easy to read and wonderful to look at. A must for concerned parents and teachers!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2001

    A very funny book.

    This is a wonderful story with hilarious pictures for kids and adults (I found myself laughing out loud). Harry Bliss and Sharon Creech have made a fabulous, fabulous book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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