Reviews for Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

Booklist Reviews 2007 July #1
A wish comes true for the principal of Aesop Elementary School when Mr. Jupiter arrives to take over a class with a reputation. With his vast experience and beautiful brown eyes, he charms everyone, including the librarian. Each of the short chapters, good for reluctant readers, describes familiar scenarios: lunchroom antics, name-calling, learning the Dewey Decimal system, and the all-important standardized-testing month. The premise is intriguing even as pieces of the action seems forced; the Aesop-like morals are a curious mix of aphorisms, some in familiar form and others recast to fit the plot. There is plenty of humor here; some of it, however, comes from stereotypical characters, both students and staff. Mr. Jupiter's first appearance promises a fantasy, but except for one other episode of wish fulfillment, this is, rather, exaggeration for the sake of humor. Fun for some, but other readers may play hooky before the year is over. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #1
No teacher wants to teach this year's fourth-grade class at Aesop Elementary. Just as Mrs. Struggles, the principal, is about to give up, Mr. Jupiter appears with a flawlessly huge resume. The class tests him, but he wins them over as the year progresses through these 23 stories. As the title and school's name hint, there's an Aesop connection. Each of the stories has a moral straight out of a fable. Calvin's troubles with math lead him to wish he was back in unproblematic kindergarten. He becomes the class helper in a class of Stepford kids to the tune of "be careful what you wish for." In another, librarian--wait for it--Ms. Paige Turner uses the lure of International Geographic to teach Lenny and Bruce the Dewey Decimal System: "necessity is the mother. . . . " Here's Sideways Stories from Wayside School married to Aesop. Despite a Dewey error and some humor over the head of the target audience, this is a winner, and the final story seems to promise a fifth-grade sequel. (Fiction. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #2

A rowdy group of students and their eccentric teacher star in Fleming's (Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! ) collection of determinedly loopy vignettes, each of which ends with an Aesop-like moral. On the day before school opens, the frantic principal still has not found a teacher for the notoriously unruly fourth graders. In walks Mr. Jupiter, whose credentials include working as a translator for Bigfoot, discovering the lost city of Atlantis and studying at the Coochie-Coochie Institute for Misbehaved Monkeys; he is hired on the spot. When he refuses to react to his students' misbehavior, they think up pranks guaranteed to rile him, but no one dares to pull them off (moral: "It is one thing to talk about it, another to do it"). In another tale, a boy who is struggling with math wishes he were back in kindergarten, where tasks were easier, but then is forced to participate in humiliating activities when he goes to help out with the younger class ("Be careful what you wish for--it might come true"). Packed with puns of varying cleverness, the fables range from pithy to protracted, the morals from spot-on to strained. Even with the inconsistencies, there's plenty to laugh at and even to ponder. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October

Gr 3-5-- A series of vignettes covers the school year of the infamous fourth graders at Aesop Elementary and the only teacher willing to take them on, Mr. Jupiter. Each story purports to be a modern-day Aesop's fable illustrating a moral (stated at the end). Melvin Moody learns that liars aren't believed even when they tell the truth in "The Boy Who Cried Lunch Monitor." Ashley Z. helps the school bully out of a jam and the bully then stops other kids from teasing Ashley about his feminine name, showing: "One good turn deserves another." Even the teachers are not above learning a thing or two: the librarian, Paige Turner, realizes that appearances aren't everything and the gym teacher, Mrs. Gluteal, should practice what she preaches about healthy eating. "March Madness," a not-so-subtle dig at standardized testing, claims: "Time is often wasted on things of little consequence." Not all of the stories illustrate their morals as effectively as these examples, but overall the collection is entertaining and would make for interesting comparisons with the well-known animal fables. The humor and occasionally bizarre situations the students find themselves in may appeal to fans of Louis Sachar's "Wayside School" books (HarperCollins).--Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

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