From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-Fletcher follows members of a sixth-grade class through a day when their substitute teacher never shows. The students decide not to report that they are alone and to run the class by themselves. Personal issues are woven into the day's events. Rachel has been mute since a classmate who had an annoying, unrequited crush on her died six months before. Bastian, an Air Force brat used to moving, has to decide whether to subject his beloved puppy to a lengthy quarantine when he moves to Hawaii the following day. Sean's alcoholic father and unnurturing home life make him too shy to express his feelings, especially his crush on Rachel. Karen, a natural leader and "good child," takes the reins in the class, making her own evaluations of right and wrong. Jessica, whose parents are judgmental, can't get past her fear of recrimination to enjoy the class' freedom. The students learn about themselves and one another, and several issues are resolved by the end of the day (e.g., Rachel speaks, Bastian gives his puppy to Sean). The resolutions are simple but not pat, the prose is economical but not sparse, and the characters are developed as sketches rather than in-depth portraits, which helps keep the book moving briskly. The premise will make the novel easy to booktalk. Not a must-have, but a worthwhile purchase.July Siebecker, Hubbard Memorial Library, MA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Gr. 5^-8. What happens when a sixth-grade class is left unsupervised for a whole day? One might imagine that anything but learning would occur. But when a class usually led by a gifted teacher is left to its own devices, something unusual happens: when the substitute teacher fails to show, the children in Mr. Fabiano's class decide to run the day according to the strict but enjoyable routine ingrained in them by their creative, beloved teacher. Rest assured Fletcher's characters aren't goody-goodies. Rather, they are coconspirators as a countdown clock builds the tension: Will they make it through the day without being found out? As they go through their rote exercises, the kids gain self-assurance and self-reliance. They also come to terms with their feelings of guilt, grief, and sorrow about a classmate who died six months earlier. Fletcher expertly balances a wide variety of emotions, giving readers a story that is by turns sad, poignant, and funny, and, little by little, realistic portraits of the complicated kids emerge. There's no Lord of the Flies
anarchy in this thoughtful, absorbing novel, which has a story that will linger long after the book is closed. Kathleen Squires
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