cover image School Is Not Fair

School Is Not Fair

Patricia Baehr, Baehr. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-02-708130-5

Four-year-old Edward finds that school can be terribly unjust. He is knocked down by a bully, who goes unpunished, while Edward, later in the book, is reprimanded for similar behavior. He never gets the cherished drum during music period, nor the glider at recess, and he is stuck with paints when there isn't enough clay to go around. But at day's end, his facility with coat fastenings wins him both praise and friends. Edward expresses common childhood frustrations and, initially, readers' sympathies will be with him. But after a while, his litany of complaints becomes a little tiresome. Ultimately, the closing turn-around is too convenient to be convincing; readers may be left feeling that this is more of a lesson than a story. The illustrations show friendly, appealing children, but are confined, on the whole, to spots rather than full scenes. In choosing not to depict the larger classroom--decor, background antics, even the teacher--Alley has passed up perhaps the chief opportunity for leavening Edward's predicament with humor and details that would give this more balance. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)