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Woodrow, Allan. Class Dismissed
October 27th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley
Ms. Bryce's fifth grade class drives her up the wall, so one day, she quits! The students are very excited about this at first, but start to worry about the implications of having no teacher. Told from a variety of viewpoints, we see the different concerns that students have. Kyle at first thinks it's great, but realizes that he needs to learn to be more responsible, especially since his mother really needs his help at home. Samantha is more concerned about fashion and her rich father's ability to buy her anything she needs, but ends up helping the class by bringing in an elderly gentleman she knows from a nursing home near her house when the group needs adult supervision. Adam is not well behaved, but begins to resent being a scapegoat for all bad behavior. Maggie is upset that she won't learn things and might not get into Harvard, so she takes over running the classroom. A missed communication results in Principal Klein not getting the message that Ms. Bryce has quit, and the children resort to various methods of subterfuge to hide the fact that they aren't being surpervised, mainly claiming that Ms. Bryce is always in the bathroom. The group manages to get through a class field trip and even puts on a play without being found out. How long can they keep up the charade?
Strengths: Although this is definitely a students fantasy, the explanations of how the students get away with hiding Ms. Bryce's absent are very clever and realistic. A variety of personalities are shown (much like the Mr. Terupt series), and enough family life is depicted that we can understand the characters' motivations. While there are serious moments, this is a light-hearted book, and shows a great understanding of the 5th grade mind.
Weaknesses: Debating whether middle schoolers will pick this up. The cover is great, so they might.
What I really think: This was a fun book with subtle messages about responsibility, learning, and how difficult so many aspects of being a teacher and being a student are. Great fun. Also loved this author's Pet War and will definitely watch his career with interest.