Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming

If you are a fourth grade teacher and have any concern at all for the happiness of your students, you should already be in possession of this book. If not, get it! I am not even stretching the truth a little when I tell you that I had three parents tell me that my reading aloud this book in class inspired their child to voluntarily pick up a book for the first time. By the second week of the read aloud (and second week of school because it is a perfect opener) three had bought a copy and two others had checked it out of the library.
So what's so great? It meets fourth graders at their humor level, and it's all about them! The fourth grade class have the worst reputation in the school. The principal is at her wits trying to find a teacher when lo and behold the mysterious Mr Jupiter enters. Each chapter that follows focuses on one or two children in the class and their in-school exploits while illustrating a moral from the famous fables. The budding romance of Mr Jupiter and the librarian, Paige Turner, creates a somewhat cohesive narrative that both delights and totally disgusts fourth grade readers at the same time. But it's not just written for laughs and affords the teacher and the class reading it a chance to discuss some of the issues of being 9 years old without anyone really noticing. For example, my class had a wonderfully frank discussion about cultural bias and the human body after reading the chapter where two boys get caught snickering over back issues of National Geographic. "They're so immature!" scoffed my oh-so-above-it-all boys. Mmm hmmm.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Very cool blog, mme t. I like it! I will be looking at some of these titles.

You should be on the tech committee!