cover image How to Survive Third Grade

How to Survive Third Grade

Laurie Lawlor. Albert Whitman & Company, $9.95 (79pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-3433-5

Ernest, who is small for his age, suffers peer pressure at school; he's ridiculed, bullied and friendless. His hardworking mother hasn't replaced or repaired last year's ripped raincoat and Ernest is obliged to wear frayed hand-me-downs. He finds relief from his grim ordeal of third-grade life in his model airplanes: he builds jets, bombers, gliders, prop planesa basement full of models (how his mother can afford to support such a relatively expensive hobby is not explained). Enter Jomo Mugwana, a new third-grader from Kenya, to whom Ernest reaches out in friendship. When Ernest unexpectedly wins a prize, he risks being publicly humiliated by asking Jomo to share it with him. Readers will wish there were easier ways to survive peer rejection than through the improbability of winning a contest, but the messages about standing up to bullies and taking risks for friendship come through clearly. Ages 8-10. (June)