Sorry to be the bearer of bad news kiddos, but the Austin school year begins in two weeks and summer vacation 2014 will be in the books. To get in the mindset of heading back to class, here are some of our staff’s favorite books about school, which prove that school a great place to learn but it is also fun, magical, and full of great friends.
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Wemberly is a sweet little mouse who worries about everything, especially about the first day of school. But when the big day arrives Wemberly meets a friend and realizes that she didn’t need to worry after all. Sweet and reassuring!
Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall
I can’t say I was ever part of a class that misbehaves as much as the kids in room 207, but I do remember the feeling of disappointment when a sub would walk in the room. I probably would have felt this disappointment even more if my class had ever had a substitute teacher like witchy Miss Viola Swamp! Fed up with her unruly students, Miss Nelson pulls a fast one on them and they come to appreciate the gentle, kind, and patient Miss Nelson. Miss Nelson Is Missing is one of those nearly perfect picture books where the text and illustrations work together to tell the complete story. The humor, charm, and emotion of the story are colorfully rendered by James Marshall and it wouldn’t be the same book without his art.
Books by Andrew Clements
I think the thing I like most about Andrew Clements’s books is that the adults always seem to have such a secondary role. They’re there but the focus of the book is always the kids and what they’re doing. My favorite titles are the ones with troublemakers (Frindle, The Laundry News, A Week in the Woods) who always seem, in the end, to be in the right.
*Check out the new book by Andrew Clements, The Map Trap!
Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka
The lunch lady at the Thompson Brook School cafeteria is exactly that – she’s a lunch lady. But Hector, Terrence, and Dee AKA the Breakfast Bunch all wonder: What does Lunch Lady do when she’s not on the clock? Think about it. Slinging hash during the day is the perfect front for someone who doesn’t want to be suspected of secretly fighting crime at night. If you enjoy espionage, unlikely superheroes, or gadgets such as Chicken Nugget Bombs or Fishstick Nunchucks, this hysterically funny comic series is for you.
Star Wars Jedi Academy by Jeffery Brown
I liked school when I was younger but I probably would have liked it more if it had included things like learning how to fight with a lightsaber and lifting heavy objects with the Force. Jedi Academy is a hilarious look at all the fun and awkwardness of starting a new school from making new friends to catching up to the rest of your classmates but all set in a galaxy far, far away.
*Check out the just released book 2 of the Jedi Academy series – Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
This is the ultimate going to school book. Who hasn’t wanted to see an owl fly up with a letter inviting them to Hogwarts? I would gladly suffer through double Potions with Professor Snape if it meant discovering the Room of Requirement and playing on the Gryffindor quidditch team. Who knew school involved such wonder and magic?
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I think the reason I love this series so much isn’t because of the interesting setting (who wouldn’t want to attend a boarding school named St. Vladamir that is filled with magic wielding vampires and half-vampires that are trained to be fighting machines?) but because Richelle Mead has created a story unlike any that I’ve seen before, casting a new light on vampires and spinning a tale of love, tragedy, humor, and survival that has kept me enraptured for years.
How To Lead A Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
Are you predator, or prey? And where does the line between getting what you want and losing yourself get fuzzy? The Mandel Academy will teach you everything you need to know about How To Lead A Life of Crime . . . if you can survive. I like this book because it’s dark and witty, a brutal rush of good vs. evil in a grey, grey, world!