From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7–Given a class assignment to find a mystery and solve it, seventh-grader Bethesda Fielding sets out to discover the true identity and personality of Ms. Finkleman, her seemingly ordinary music teacher. The woman is so ordinary that she is practically invisible to students and staff alike. This changes when Bethesda unearths some 1990s rock music paraphernalia and puts the pieces together (so she thinks), to find that Ms. Finkleman used to be Little Miss Mystery, in the band The Red Herrings. Bethesda is in a quandary after the project becomes the school's obsession. There is a rock star among them and so the choral corral that Ms. Finkleman was planning for a multischool competition will now showcase rock and a performance by her, instead of the 16th-century English folk ballads she had hoped the students would deliver. It is safe to say that Ms. Finkleman shuns the sudden fame and the attention it garners her. This story is part mystery, part friendship novel, part school story. There are twists and turns, but what is most enjoyable is the effect that learning and playing rock music has on the teacher's students. Everyone seems to discover their true inner selves through music, and that includes the not-so-mysterious-after-all Ms. Finkleman.–Tracy Karbel, Chicago Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ms. Finkleman, a mild-mannered Music Fundamentals teacher, is a completely anonymous figure at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School. She is such a nonentity that ace student Bethesda Fielding determines there must be more to her—a secret history that needs to be uncovered. When Bethesda discovers her teacher’s punk-music past, the repercussions are hilarious, revolutionary, and TWR (“Totally Way Rock”). Bethesda is a lovable nerd and heads a cast of characters who are clearly types yet still believable, and their dialogue is authentic. This title touches on intriguing issues about identity, the way teachers connect with their students, and second chances, all of which could open up lively discussions. This is also a just-plain-fun read that culminates in a wholly satisfying ending, and it will easily appeal to fans of Andrew Clements and Gordon Korman, as well as anyone who ever watched School of Rock or High School Musical and imagined putting on the best show ever. Grades 5-8. --Kara Dean