There are few surprises in this outing from Hurwitz (Make Room for Elisa, 1993, etc.), who lays on the lessons with heavy hand and subdues any potential excitement with deadening passive-voice narration: ""Books were given out to the students, and the routine was explained."" In six short chapters, Elisa attends her first day of first grade, follows her father into a voting booth, counts down to her birthday, celebrates Mother's Day in the wee hours of the morning, swallows a tooth, and enters a raffle. There's enough action to hold interest, but the point of view is occasionally adult, e.g., that Elisa's father loses his vote (by demonstrating how the voting booth works, he casts blanks) is a point that may be lost on children. The characters are a pretty bland bunch, especially given Elisa's ""ever-clever"" designation, and poor Russell--he has only grudging, walk-on status here. This story is full of good intentions, but lacks energy.