Mrs. Hartwell is back (First Year Letters, 2003, etc.) in a gentle satire on teaching to the test.
It’s a Monday at the end of a really great school year. The kids have learned a lot and had fun along the way, but it’s time now for the dreaded standardized test. But first, they need to learn how to show what they know. On Monday, they practice sitting still. Tuesday’s lesson is on bubble-filling, and Wednesday finds the class taking a timed practice test. Throughout, Mrs. Hartwell finds that she is writing a lot of passes to the nurse’s office—the students can’t take the pressure. And so on Thursday, Mrs. Hartwell tosses her lesson plans and leads her nerved-up class to the library for a little relaxation. Danneberg’s tongue-in-cheek humor is definitely in evidence as she describes the rigors of getting ready for a standardized test and the maladies that arise in anxiety-ridden students. Love’s ink-and-dye artwork captures the varied expressions and body language of a classroom full of students, from a finger-down-the-throat gesture of disgust to the pride on their faces at having learned so much.
Once they stop laughing at the spot-on depiction of standardized testing, teachers should take a page from Mrs. Hartwell’s book. (Picture book. 6-9)