The third graders at the W. T. Melon Elementary School inhabit a very real world, one that children will recognize, peopled with kids facing all sorts of problems in imaginative ways. For example, there's the class chatterbox, the committed doodler, the playground bully, and the girl who always loses her pencils. They meet up with magical events that help them work out their situations. The girl who always loses her pencil meets up with an enchanted pencil that sharpens any pencil it finds to smithereens. The student who draws creatures all over his papers finds his drawings coming to life one day, doing his work. This is great, but then they start making new doodle creatures on their own and taking over. Only by erasing them one by one can he stop them. The class bully gets his due one day when all the playground equipment comes to life to teach him a lesson he will never forget. This is one sweet, funny, and accessible book. Kids will laugh every time the tall teacher's ears turn red when he gets mad, and take comfort in the fact that they are not alone. 2000, Front Street, $14.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Nancy Partridge
Gr 2-4-In a world in which adults are identified by description (tall teacher, Playground Lady) or silly names (Mr. Principle the principal, Miss Givings the substitute, Mr. Leeks the custodian), these school stories unfold with an intriguing mix of fantasy and reality. Among the third graders at W. T. Melon Elementary School are Richard, the recognizable bully, who is himself bullied by playground equipment come to life; lazy Andrew whose doodles wreak havoc on the classroom; and chatterbox Morgan, who learns to listen more than she yaks. Each well-written short selection has strong child appeal and is sprinkled with Di Fiori's appealing black-and-white illustrations. Recognizable characters and situations and zany plots will pull young readers in and convey gentle messages. Fans of Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Avon, 1985) will enjoy this book.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.