October 28th 2014 by Candlewick Press
ARC from YABC and reviewed there.
Timmy has been let back into his old school, although Principal Scrimshaw informs him that he is on probation and that any infractions will lead to permanent expulsion. Timmy's glad to be back with his best friend Rollo, but not pleased to see that his arch nemesis, Corinna Corinna, is not only still at the school but also will be his partner for a huge nature project that will make up a huge portion of his grade. Timmy has been approached by another student, Angel, who claims to have the "Miracle Report", a nature report from years ago that received an A+++++ that was found but now is missing. Timmy also has to deal with his mother dating his baseball coach, even though he feels that baseball is an unnecessarily violent game, and with Total, his imaginary polar bear and partner in his detective firm. When the school camps out in the wilderness to gather specimens for the nature project, Timmy's investigation comes to a head AND he must save himself from the dreaded scrum bolo chihuahua by the most horrendous and dreaded of means.
Strengths: The very first day of school, a student came in and asked me when this book would come out. He was thrilled to get the ARC. Few of my students read the comics in the newspaper, so are unfamiliar with Pastis' Pearls Before Swine, but they do love notebook novels, and they do love this series. I was glad to see the inclusion of a massive school project instead of a school election, dance, or something about bullying. I still remember that in the fourth grade (and this has been over 40 years ago!) we had a huge project about animals. I only got an A++ on mine because my pictures weren't very good! I've even camped with middle school students, so that was realistic as well, and does not appear in too many books. The reason my students love the books, however, is more because of the goofy stuff-- riding around on a Roomba vacuum, Flo the Librarian with his motorcycle gang attire, and even Total.
Weaknesses: The polar bear still bugs me. Is he real? No? Sometimes it seems that he is.