When a fed-up teacher unexpectedly resigns, her unruly fifth-grade class decides not to tell anyone.
Woodrow’s agile classroom comedy has much in common with the kind of sports story during which the bumbling players come together to win the big game. Similarly, this novel is about a group of disparate children who learn how to cooperate as a team, making friends and honing their talents to achieve victory. The story is narrated in alternating first-person voices by five classmates: Kyle, the bully; Samantha, the critical rich-girl fashionista; Eric, the so-quiet-he’s-practically-invisible writer/wallflower; Maggie, the bossy brain; and Adam, the well-meaning kid who is always in trouble. The children think their teacher’s absence will be a blast, but there are many problems to solve, the most challenging being the creation, rehearsal, and performance of an original play about the American Revolution for after-school activity night. The play, a comic set piece that neatly caps the action, is this book’s big game, and besides being funny and delightful, it showcases the group’s new grasp of teamwork and also demonstrates how each child has grown individually. The story is a little slow to get going, and inexperienced readers may find it difficult to distinguish among the narrative voices, but the premise can’t miss.
Aimed equally at boys and girls, this engaging comedy offers some life lessons with a giggle. (Fiction. 8-12)