cover image Next Year I'll Be Special

Next Year I'll Be Special

Patricia Reilly Giff. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $13.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30903-5

``Next year, when I'm in second grade . . . everything will be different.'' So begins Marilyn's reassuring proclamation to herself, which hinges on a farewell to ``mean Miss Minch'' and the advent of another teacher, Miss Lark (``she'll know I'm special''). Her daydream quickly swells into a rush of impossible expectations. Next year, she will be the chosen one: board washer, door monitor and messenger--``I'll be all of them.'' Every desire will be ripely fulfilled: not only will she be the best jumper in the class, but friends will insist she forgo her turn holding the rope; the art teacher will hang Marilyn's work, not in the anonymous classroom, but throughout the length of the hall where ``all the visitors will see it''; on Valentine's Day this super-second-grader will count an unprecedented 24 cards, one from every classmate. In uncommon sympathy with her audience, Giff gets right to the heart of grade-schoolers' priorities. Her precision, along with Hafner's buoyant, almost puckish watercolors, will strike responsive chords in children and parents alike. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)