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by Judy Finchler & illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8027-8737-1
Publisher: Walker

Finding humor in standardized testing is no easy task, but the creators of Miss Malarkey and crew know just where to look. It’s the test that doesn’t matter—“it wouldn’t affect our report cards. It wouldn’t mean extra homework”—but it sure has the teachers and the administration in an ill-concealed swivet. Miss Malarkey returns to chew her nails over the yearly standardized test. Her story chronicles the nervous antics of the school staff as they prepare for the two-day test. Students play the multiplication mambo at recess and funny phonics at lunch, which no longer feature potato chips but rather fish, the well-known brain food. No, the test doesn’t matter, but the gym teacher is teaching stress management through yoga and even the young narrator’s mother requires him to summarize his bedtime story. Then the tests arrive—they have an aura that hovers somewhere between a Draconian and religious relict in Finchler’s wry characterization—and are served to the students. Everybody relaxes once the tests are over, particularly so since Miss Malarkey’s school places first in the state. Finchler (Miss Malarkey Won’t Be in Today, 1998, etc.) conveys the hubbub surrounding the “test of no import” with dash and humor, while O’Malley’s drawings of the hang-dog teachers work just right for the fraught atmosphere. (Picture book. 5-9)