On weekends, redheaded Tillie climbs trees and teaches her little brother how to skip. During the week, of course, she goes to school. Her principal, Mr. Keene, is the kind of gung ho leader any school would be lucky to have. That is, until he goes a little over the top. "Oh!" he says. "Aren't these fine children? Aren't these fine teachers? Isn't this a fine, fine school?" And then this exuberant administrator decides five days isn't nearly enough for such a fine school. "From now on, let's have school on Saturdays, too!" The teachers and students are not thrilled, but no one is willing to burst Mr. Keene's bubble. Soon their well-meaning principal has done away with weekends, holidays, and
summer vacation. It's time for someone to take action... gently, though. Young Tillie has just the right amount of subtlety and tact--and motivation--for the job.
Sharon Creech is the bestselling author of many fine, fine books for kids and teens, including the Newbery Medal-winning Walk Two Moons, and a Newbery Honor Book, The Wanderer. Wonderfully clever touches by the illustrator, award-winning New Yorker cartoonist and cover artist Harry Bliss, include signs in the cafeteria ("Why not study while you chew?") and the priceless expressions on students' and teachers' faces as Principal Keene announces yet another plan to increase school daze. Wonderful! (Ages 6 to 10) --Emilie Coulter
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From 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.
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