Children's LiteratureJoey Storch, called Spider because he spends a lot of time learning about them, is the slowest runner in his third grade class. The prospect of a grade-wide Olympics, sure to highlight his poor athletic ability, prompts a mixture of anxiety and misunderstandings. The students in Ms. Schmidt's class seem to be particularly adept at pointing out each other's shortcomings. In spite of the initial squabbling, the Olympics are a success and predictably, relationships are mended. One might expect a story of friendship, teamwork and appreciation of classmates to be a winning combination. Unfortunately, Willner-Pardo has cast her theme within a subplot of mystery in the teachers' lounge. The third graders believe it must be hiding a box of dead kids, and Joey and a friend cooperate to find out the truth. This tasteless premise, told through shallow characters and farfetched logic, produces a losing outcome. One would hope that other tales in the "Spider Storch" series are better efforts. 2001, Albert Whitman, $11.95. Ages 8 to 11. Reviewer: Anne Field
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-3-In this latest installment, Spider tells all about the Third-Grade Olympics, which he dreads because he's such a slow runner. Even being an expert about spiders and sports won't save him during his leg of the relay race. All eyes will be on him, so he prays that he won't be too slow. Thus, he learns plenty about himself, and about supporting his teammates, and being supported by them, girls and all. Black-and-white spot art conveys the action. This beginning chapter book is complete with classmate rivalries, idiosyncratic teachers, and sharp observations. Spider's well-honed sense of fair play and friendship makes him a worthy role model.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsJoey "Spider" Storch hates to be wrong, but his friends are getting tired of hanging out with a know-it-all. Spider has to be the best at everything, whether it is knowing how many medals Carl Lewis won in the Olympics or being the best basketball player on the court. But he quickly learns that not everyone can be the best at everything when his PE teacher puts him on a relay team in the Third Grade Olympics. Spider has to face the fact that he is a slow runner; maybe even the slowest runner in the whole school and his friends, tired of always being corrected, decide to use this to teach Spider a lesson. Spider learns that sometimes being part of the team is better than being the best. The writing is funny and fast-paced and the comical cartoon illustrations and a side story about the mysterious teacher's lounge make this a wonderful addition to the Spider Storch series. (Fiction. 7-10)
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