cover image The Class

The Class

Frances O’Roark Dowell. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8179-3

Sixth grade has started, and there’s a lot going on in Ms. Herrerra’s class. New girl and budding author Ellie, who struggles to make friends, decides to write a book about her school. Becca has always been a teacher’s pet, but she can’t win over Ms. Herrerra, which inspires her to act out with the help of popular mean girl Petra, who wants to make some changes herself. Petra’s former best friend, Rosie, is not too happy about Petra acting so differently, though shy, kind Stefan is thrilled when Petra agrees to attend a dance with him. Despite their varying concerns, the classmates unite when beloved Ms. Herrerra finds herself on thin ice with the school principal over an occurrence that happened the previous year. In alternating chapters, all 20 students narrate—some, including Ellie, appear more than once. This ambitious technique from Dowell (the Sam the Man series) pays off: the students’ varied perspectives and sufficiently unique voices offer key insights into events and character motivations, such as why Rosie is unkind or why Petra wants to change. The many views and diverse cast create a complex, thought-provoking, and entertaining view of middle school. Ages 9–13. [em](Oct.) [/em]