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LIONEL AT SCHOOL by Stephen Krensky


by Stephen Krensky & illustrated by Susanna Natti

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8037-2457-8
Publisher: Dial

Krensky’s appealing primary-grader (Lionel in the Summer, 1998, etc.) takes on school challenges sure to interest beginning readers, and once again Natti’s cheerful, two-to-a-spread, pencil, colored-pencil, and watercolor wash illustrations accompany them. In “Keeping Secrets,” Lionel fears losing his privacy at Back-to-School night after his sister, Louise, tells him that parents and teachers trade secrets and end up knowing “everything about you.” How to avoid this dire fate? Lionel decides to keep the adults busily separate, and his plan works without any loss of likability. “Moving” gives Lionel insight into the unsettling nature of change; even a move across town can make it hard for a new kid like Ben to feel at home. Lionel remembers his mother saying that the newcomer will probably like new friends and offers to be Ben’s “trusty guide,” which includes knowing what to steer away from at lunchtime. “The Stranger” centers on the peculiar behavior of sisters who ignore you in public, as well as an imaginative—and gently punitive—means of dealing with the aliens who must have taken over Louise’s brain. The final story, “Passing the Time,” leaves Lionel thinking that maybe “time knew what it was doing” when he attempts to manipulate it. Readers will recognize themselves and their friends in these authentically childlike characters and episodes; better yet, they'll enjoy them. (Fiction. 4-8)