Nothing can measure up to a beloved kindergarten experience, as the spirited, pig-tailed narrator in this story resolutely comes to believe during her first day of first grade. Haley and her friend Ryan pride themselves on being big kids now. "Little kids stand at the school door, holding their parents' hands. Not Ryan and me. We walk into school all by ourselves." Haley's puffed-up feelings soon deflate, however. Her new teacher, Ms. Gray, gives them only a "tiny smile. Not a sunny-morning smile" like their kindergarten teacher's. The walls are bare, the work is hard and there's only one recess instead of two. "No share time? No dragon kite? No smiley teacher in a daffodil shirt? First grade stinks!" Haley reasons. The pacing of the first-person narration coupled with Spiegel's (Rosa's Room) winsome watercolors keeps this lively tale on track. Comedic spot illustrations contrast Haley's fond remembrances of kindergarten with her disgruntled feelings about first grade. With the help of an understanding Ms. Gray, Haley soon starts to see the up side of being a first-grader. Rodman (My Best Friend) handles the turmoil of school transitions with realism and humor. A good jumping-off book for discussions about differences and change. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The endpapers propel you immediately into the school milieu; primary ruled paper is covered with the alphabet and words emergent readers will recognize. Ms. Gray, the first grade teacher, is not at all like Ms. Lacy, Haley's beloved kindergarten teacher. Haley is excited to be in first grade but as the day progresses, she is more and more disturbed by the differences (the taxing effort of writing letters all the same size, art instead of a second recess, Ms. Gray reading stories with chapters, Ms. Gray's lack of love for Haley's orange skies, "no whispering," etc.) until she explodes, yelling out "First Grade Stinks!" The rest of the class is stunned into silence ("You're in trouble now, says Ryan."). Ms. Gray kneels beside Haley and gently asks what is wrong. Wisely explaining why they work so hard in first grade, she tells Haley that "Soon you'll be able to read them (chapter books) yourself." An idea that Haley finds exhilarating"happiness whooshes inside me." By the end of the little discussion, Haley's attitude has been transformedwhile Ms. Gray is different she "knows how I feel. Just like Ms. Lacy." Haley is delighted with her status in first grade and feels sympathy for kindergartenersthey cannot read, have to take naps, do not have chapter books; "Kindergarten stinks." The last page shows her happily sharing books with some of her classmates; "First grade is great!" The watercolor illustrations are amusing and provide all the picture clues an early reader will enjoy. I particularly loved Ms. Gray's appreciation for a practice writing page that says "skies glow orange." Haley is a lucky first grader. Readers will be reassured that they will be "lucky" as well.
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
PreS-Gr 1-On her first day of first grade, Haley discovers that the routines are much different and decidedly less fun than kindergarten. She gets only one recess, no sharing time, a room without the familiar decorations, a teacher who is less demonstrative than her beloved Ms. Lacy, and, worst of all, a read-aloud that isn't even finished. Each time Haley discovers another difference she mutters to herself, "First grade stinks!" Finally, a gentle reprimand for whispering sends Haley into a full-blown meltdown, screaming her mantra of frustration aloud to the entire class. When she lists her complaints to her teacher, Ms. Gray explains about chapter books and reassures her that soon she will be reading them on her own. With her eyes opened to the possibilities ahead, Haley decides that first grade is great. The scratchy, fluid, full-color watercolor-and-ink illustrations feature plenty of white space. Perfect as a read-aloud, this book is a worthy successor to Miriam Cohen's When Will I Read? (Dell, 1996). Pair it with Kevin Henkes's Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse (HarperCollins, 1996) for a spot-on depiction of teachers helping kids through rough patches.-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Rodman's witty take on the harsh realities of first grade, as perceived by those in the trenches, will tickle readers' funny bones. On her first day of school, Haley is aghast at the appalling conditions of first grade: classroom walls devoid of any decorations, the absence of a second recess and chocolate shortages in the lunchroom, caused by none other than the kindergarten class. After the splendor and orange-colored sky wonder of kindergarten with Miss Lacy, Haley feels overcome by the relentless ordinariness of the aptly named Ms. Gray and the apparent tediousness of the first-grade curriculum. However, after an outburst of titanic proportions, Haley soon discovers Ms. Gray's cozier side and learns that hard work often reaps wondrous rewards. Spiegel's ink-and-watercolor, cartoon-style illustrations perfectly capture the quirky independence of young Haley, who refuses to go quietly into first grade. For young readers approaching this or any other significant transition with trepidation, Rodman's humorous tale serves as a gentle reminder to search for the silver lining. (Picture book. 5-8)