cover image Starting School

Starting School

Johanna Hurwitz, Thomas J. Dygard. HarperCollins, $15 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15685-5

Hurwitz (Class Clown; School Spirit) didn't stray far afield to find the heroes of this effervescent caper. Familiar to her many fans, Lucas Cott--now a sixth grader--appears in these pages, but the leading roles go to his five-year-old twin brothers, Marius and Marcus. On the first day of kindergarten, the precocious boys disrupt their respective classes: Marius leads a mouse hunt in his classroom for the critter Lucas has told him resides there, and Marcus hurls a deck of cards in the air to initiate a game of 52 Pick Up in his. Adding an unusual slant, Hurwitz periodically eavesdrops on the teachers' room, making readers privy to the exasperation of the duo's teachers. While Marius and Marcus play an ongoing game of one-upmanship to convince the other that his teacher is better, the two educators attempt to prove to the other that her student is worse. Just when this dual bickering begins to grate, Hurwitz comes up with a clever concluding twist: the teachers switch classes to experience the other's tribulations on the very day that the identical twins do the same. Hurwitz's focus on younger characters may extend her readership into lower grades, but there's a curious discrepancy here between the age of the protagonists and that of the targeted audience, who likely would rather read about peers or slightly older kids. Still, the author's fresh scenarios and sassy dialogue are as diverting as ever. Ages 7-up. (Aug.)