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From the Kids in Mrs. Z's Class series, volume 2

by Rajani LaRocca ; illustrated by Kat Fajardo

Pub Date: April 30th, 2024
ISBN: 9781523526581
Publisher: Algonquin

LaRocca picks up the baton for this latest in the series, each of which is written by a different middle-grade author and follows a different student in Mrs. Z’s third grade class.

Mrs. Z announces that Curiosity Academy has a new garden. To help raise money for it, Rohan decides to start a pet-care business—an odd choice, as his younger sister, Kavya, points out, given that he dislikes animals. Ever since he was bitten by his music teacher’s cat, he worries that all pets bite. His parents insist that he prove he’s responsible enough. So when Mrs. Z tells the students that they may sign up to take Honey, the class guinea pig, home for a weekend, Rohan jumps at the chance. Though he’s afraid, he’s determined, and when Honey gets frightened during a thunderstorm and goes missing, Rohan learns another valuable lesson: “It’s easier to get over being scared with a friend.” The premise of this lightweight, sweet tale feels a bit unrealistic; most kids who are nervous around animals likely wouldn’t volunteer to take the class pet home, much less start a pet-related business. Still, the resolution is heartening. LaRocca captures sibling dynamics ably; Rohan and Kavya squabble but ultimately support one another. Mrs. Z is brown-skinned in the upbeat, expressive illustrations; Rohan and his family are cued South Asian. Final art not seen.

Quietly uplifting and encouraging.

(Chapter book. 6-9)