Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Alice DeLaCroix & illustrated by Cynthia Fisher

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-8234-1745-X
Publisher: Holiday House

Another transferring-to-a-new-school story for young readers. Randall has moved near the end of the school year. Worries that haunt all third graders also follow him around. How will he fit in? Will he make friends with those who’ve had the whole year to bond? The narrative reveals that Randall’s parents have recently divorced, but he seems much more concerned about school. Only one phone call to Dad lets readers know that Randall even gives that usually traumatic situation a second thought. He’s too wrapped up in his role as a secret hero. Randall has just watched a movie called The Scarlet Pimpernel and decides that he will be like the hero of the movie and leave little secret notes of encouragement for his classmates. A classmate drops his homework and Russell secretly retrieves it and leaves a note, stamped with an ink rose that he happens to keep in his desk. A girl cries because she does not get her choice for a class project and Russell drops a note on her desk. One might forgive the saccharine situations if the characters read like children about to enter the fourth grade, but they don’t. A puffin Beanie Baby? Wailing tears when someone chooses the same tree to study? Secret notes with a rose, stamped by a boy? Nosy third graders would figure that out in a few seconds, if they cared. They would notice the presence of a red ink pad very quickly, especially in the desk of a new student. Setting the scene in a younger class—say, the end of first grade—would have made a lot more sense. Young readers looking for the next chapter book will find this just marginally acceptable. (Fiction. 6-9)