Welcome back to the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents!
The fall semester’s lesson: How to Go Far in Life; the goal: to earn the Great Rapscott Medal for Reaching The Top. As the offbeat Ms. Rapscott reasons, “you cannot reach The Top unless you go far,” but you must also fail several times in the attempt by making mistakes on purpose. However, there is only one place to begin: The Bottom. This time, Bea, Mildred, Annabelle, and Dahlia are present and accounted for, while Fay, having “failed in the best possible way,” is accidentally delivered to The Top on her way to school. With her signature quirky logic, Ms. Rapscott also teaches the girls How to Celebrate a Birthday and How to Make a Bad Day Good. As in the first book, Ms. Rapscatt’s Girls (2015), the emphasis is on building a tone that combines the merry and the Gothic rather than on deep character development The novel hits a pothole with its lack of racial diversity; there’s a brief reference to former students being of “every color, size, and shape,” but hazy descriptions support inferences that the characters are white, an impression reinforced by the black-and-white illustrations. A spot of body diversity labels Mildred as “plump,” but her fatness is a source of shame.
A reading of the first book is a must in order to fully enjoy and appreciate this unpretentiously lesson-drenched sequel. (Fiction. 8-12)