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FOURTH GRADE RATS by Jerry Spinelli


by Jerry Spinelli

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0590442449
Publisher: Scholastic

The latest Newbery winner spins a funny, light story about a couple of boys who take to heart a familiar chant: "First grade babies!/Second grade cats!/Third Grade angels!/Fourth grade rats!" Narrator Suds (so called because a warm bath is his most effective solace) is having a tough time complying with best- friend Joey's demand that he give up baby stuff like peanut-butter sandwiches and his treasured elephant-covered lunch box; macho behavior--such as being mean to little kids and creating chaos in his room--is even harder, while saying "No" to his mom proves almost impossible. Still, Joey's new behavior--especially his stoicism after a bee-sting--have such a dramatic effect on friend Judy's affections that Suds makes the effort, to the dismay of parents and teacher. Judy's regard turns out to be as fickle as it is self-serving; she literally leaves Suds up a tree after he rescues her cat. After Mom comes to the rescue, she and Joey's mother call a halt to the premature adolescent behavior--to everyone's relief. The humor here is broad but genuinely comical, while the kids' real concerns are presented with sympathy; the parents are laudably sensible, assertive, and good at keeping their cool. A fine addition to the Cleary/Hurwitz league. (Fiction. 7-10)