From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–Mr. Magro asks his students to write about a big emergency, for "fun and extra credit," and the 12 stories that follow are the result of that assignment. (All but one receives extra credit.) The situations described are as varied as the personalities that emerge as the children read their stories aloud. Some tales are poignant, others are humorous; all are as credible as the characters sketched. Some youngsters are determined; with the help of her mom, Joy Frazure tracks down the man who saved her as an infant, just to thank him. Others demonstrate quick thinking or the ability to rethink opinions: Abe Lincoln's words save Augustus T. Bruewhiler III from a bear during a camping trip while a goat helps Robbie Robinson change his mind about mean Mrs. Meany. The final story–the one that didn't get extra credit–by Anonymous reveals how an astute teacher helped shape a boy who had trouble learning and had to repeat first grade. It's Mr. Magro's own inspiring story. Lighthearted sketches enhance characterization and add to the already open format. Children's ages are not specifically mentioned, broadening the appeal of this engaging, plausible, and highly readable collection of anecdotes.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
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Gr. 4-6. In another collection of stories by the authors of My Dog, My Hero
(2000), students describe distressing situations in which they needed help. Framed as extra-credit class assignments for Mr. Magro's class, the 12 first-person narratives reveal a range of personalities and situations, from a dramatic runaway go-cart ride and facing the consequences of eating one's fund-raising candy to overcoming fear of failure in playing baseball. The concluding story about coping with a learning challenge is revealed as Mr. Magro's own, illustrating that teachers are people, too. From familiar difficulties (losing a beloved object) to extraordinary ones (the sobering but ultimately uplifting account of being rescued as a newborn from a motel dumpster), the stories will inspire thought and discussion about the different kinds of crises that may touch our lives. The accessible format, lively tellings, and diverse characters may also appeal to reluctant readers older than the target middle-grade audience. Black-and-white, cartoonlike drawings enliven the stories. Shelle RosenfeldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved