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FIRST YEAR LETTERS by Julie Danneberg


From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

by Julie Danneberg & illustrated by Judy Love

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-58089-084-9
Publisher: Charlesbridge

Danneberg follows up on the hilarity of First Day Jitters (2000) with a hair-raising account of the indomitable Sarah Jane Hartwell’s first year of teaching. The epistolary tale is comprised of letters to Mrs. Hartwell from her students, principal, janitorial staff, and Phil, the local firefighter. Danneberg’s dry humor is in full evidence in the course of her witty commentaries, made all the more humorous by their droll delivery. The deadpan style of the children’s letters is a perfect foil for the wild escapades they refer to so innocently. An apology for vomiting on Sarah Jane’s shoes, a letter marveling at Mrs. Hartwell’s ability to leap a museum railing in a single bound, and a note from Phil requesting Sarah Jane not to engage in any more flammable experiments, among others, reveal the true story of this eventful year. Dating from September to May, the letters chart not only the misadventures of the class but the blossoming of Sarah Jane into a seasoned professional. Love’s uproarious illustrations are over-flowing with comic touches, providing ample details for leisurely perusals of the pages. Her exuberant pictures capture the mad-cap spirit of the story without becoming ludicrous or compromising the tale’s warmth. Both funny and touching, this beguiling tale of a teacher’s metamorphosis is perfect to share with students and educators alike. (Picture book. 5-9)