Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Summary: Gavin, Natalie, Trevor, Scott, and Randi are all looking forward to sixth grade with Mr. Mitchell, and are dismayed when they learn at the end of the summer that he has left, replaced with Mrs. Woods who is coming out of retirement to teach them. Each kid is struggling with different issues, including an abusive brother (Trevor), an overly ambitious mom pushing her in gymnastics (Randi), a know-it-all attitude that’s resulted in no friends (Natalie), learning disabilities (Gavin), and immaturity and impulsivity (Scott). They take turns telling the story of how each gradually comes to enjoy Mrs. Woods’ teaching style, only to see the best parts of sixth grade disappear to make way for standardized test preparation. The test becomes high-stakes for each one of them for a different reason, and the stress about not doing well results in a plan to cheat. When their perfect scores arouse suspicion, the truth comes out, but with it comes the truth about many of the other issues in the kids’ lives. There’s a lot to resolve with both students and teachers, but the school year ends on a high note. 368 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Fans of the author’s Mr. Terupt series will enjoy this new book told in a similar style, with five different narrators. Many readers will find something to connect with in at least one of the main characters.
Cons: In today’s Common Core world, a straight multiple choice standardized test seems unrealistic.