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THE SECRET SCHOOL

Avi, Author . Harcourt $16 (160p) ISBN 978-0-15-216375-4

Weaving together a fast-moving plot, solid characterizations, sharply tuned dialogue and a wealth of detail, Avi (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) offers another satisfying historical novel, this time evoking rural Colorado in 1925. When the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse in Elk Valley must depart unexpectedly, the head of the school board decides to end the academic year right then, a month and a half before the summer break. To his surprise, 14-year-old Ida Bidson protests, because without exit exams, she cannot proceed to high school in the fall. "I'm not so sure a girl needs a high school education," Mr. Jordan retorts, undeterred. Then Ida's friend Tom comes up with a plan: "You're such a gravy know-it-all," he tells her. "You could take over the school when Miss Fletcher leaves." And so she does, swearing the students to secrecy. It's no easy task—"Miss Bidson" has to learn self-confidence, and she must keep up with her farm chores and with her own studies. To compound the challenge, the county examiner discovers the secret and agrees to keep it only if all the students take a final exam. Right from the opening scene showing resourceful Ida and her seven-year-old brother driving the family's Model T to school—Ida at the wheel hollering directions ("Brake and clutch!") while Felix pushes the pedals with his hands—Avi wittily up-ends the usual roles assigned adults and children. A crowd-pleaser. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/16/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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FORMATS
Prebound-Glued - 157 pages - 978-0-7569-1625-1
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-547-54461-8
Paperback - 157 pages - 978-0-15-204699-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4025-2205-5
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-29443-0
Prebound-Glued - 160 pages - 978-0-613-70523-3
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