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A FINE, FINE SCHOOL by Sharon Creech


by Sharon Creech & illustrated by Harry Bliss

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-027736-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

School can be peachy, but that doesn’t mean time away from school isn’t just as valuable, which is the lesson Principal Keene has to learn in this charming story of a school administrator utterly rapt in his job. Mr. Keene just can’t get enough of his fine school with all that fine learning being taught by the fine teachers to the fine students. So he decides to have school on Saturday, then Sunday, then on holidays, then the whole year through: “He was so proud of the students and the teachers, of all the learning they were doing every day.” Literally. But the students and teachers aren’t so sanguine about the situation, though no one wanted to prick Mr. Keene’s balloon. Until Tillie finally tells him that some others are not learning because of all the school, like her dog, who hasn’t learned how to sit, or her little brother, who hasn’t learned how to swing or skip, because she’s never home to teach them. Indeed, she hasn’t learned to climb a tree for all the classroom time she’s been putting in. Mr. Keene sees the light, beveling his enthusiasm and putting his good intentions into perspective. Creech’s text capably moves the story forward, but it has all the humor of a stoat and the repetitions are overmuch. Yet Bliss (Girl of the Shining Mountain, 1999, etc.) comes through not just to save the day, but to make the story memorable, with appealing characters and numerous silly sight gags and verbal asides, like the post-it notes that read “Massive Quiz Saturday” and “Power Nap 2 pm,” the photo in the kid’s locker from his parents signed “We Miss You Son!” and the TV screen that reads “The Best Cartoons in the World Start in 5 Minutes!!” just as Tillie is shuffling out the door to school on Christmas. Just fine. (Picture book. 4-8)