From the Publisher
* "Cheng's free-verse poems give voice to the children, allowing them to speak their hopes, frustrations and fears. . . . There is no rising or falling action, simply the opportunity to get to know these third graders as complete and distinct individuals." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "A spare, eloquent novel in verse. . . . These poems pay tribute to hard-working educators and children learning to overcome obstacles and accept unwelcome changes." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An inspirational tool for creative writing as well as a way to approach civil rights and social issues to the younger grades." --Library Media Connection
In a spare, eloquent novel in verse illustrated with her own bold block prints, Cheng (Marika ) captures the moods of five inner-city third-graders as they prepare themselves for their school's impending demolition. A sense of loss prevails, but other emotions-jealousy, indignation, pride and love-percolate as the five narrators deal with personal issues at school and at home. Using very few words, the author conveys complicated back stories: Jonathan, for example, can't go home with his friend, and his friend "can't come to my house, either./ I used to have a house/ before my little brother Caleb/ set the mattress on fire/.... He wanted to dry out the sheets/ before anyone saw." She also evokes the children's innocence and shared affection for their teacher, Miss D., who instills in them a strong sense of justice, especially after they are falsely accused of spitting from a theater balcony. Mixing sad and uplifting images occurring between the fall and spring of a school year, these poems pay tribute to hard-working educators and children learning to overcome obstacles and accept unwelcome changes. Ages 6-up. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4- Free-verse voices of five different third graders relate the last year of Pleasant Hill School before it is torn down. All of the children have their issues-Jonathan's family is temporarily homeless, Kayla's brother is in jail, Dawn feels fat-but the youngsters are bound by their love for their teacher, Miss D., and for their school. The poems relate both the larger issues and familiar day-to-day details: lessons, getting ready for a play, playground jealousies. Cheng is a skilled writer with an ability to relate a realistic child perspective that is deceptively simple. Here, unfortunately, her efforts are hampered by her own concept and art. The five voices are not distinct, making it difficult to trace any character arc, and the woodblock illustrations lack child appeal. The book design, while elegant, speaks to a much older audience-at least middle school, and most likely adults. These elements taken together completely undercut the appeal for the audience to which the words speak best. Except as a classroom read-aloud, it's hard to imagine this book leaving a library shelf.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA