"The long-awaited prequel to the bestseller FOURTH GRADE RATS George, aka "Suds," has just entered third grade, and he's heard the rhyme about "first grade babies/second grade cats/third grade angels/fourth grade rats," but what does this mean for his school year? It means that his teacher, Mrs. Simms, will hold a competition every month to see ...
"The long-awaited prequel to the bestseller FOURTH GRADE RATS George, aka "Suds," has just entered third grade, and he's heard the rhyme about "first grade babies/second grade cats/third grade angels/fourth grade rats," but what does this mean for his school year? It means that his teacher, Mrs. Simms, will hold a competition every month to see which student deserves to be awarded "the halo" - which student is best-behaved, kindest to others, and, in short, perfect. Suds is determined to be the first to earn the halo, but he's finding the challenge of always being good to be more stressful than he had anticipated. Does he have to be good even outside of school? (Does he have to be nice to his annoying little sister?) And if Mrs. Simms doesn't actually see him doing a good deed, does it even count?"--
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Publishers Weekly, 2012-07-23 In this peppy prequel to Fourth Grade Rats (1991), Spinelli builds on the childhood rhyme from that novel ("First grade babies!/ Second grade cats!/ Third grade angels!/ Fourth grade rats!") as George (aka Suds) eagerly tries to earn the first cardboard halo that his teacher, Mrs. Simms, will award throughout the year for good behavior. Spinelli's careful characterizations give the story its emotional honesty, and Suds's obsession with snagging the halo-and his resulting angst-inspire some genuinely funny moments. In fact, he surprises even himself at the lengths he'll go in pursuit of a halo, progressing from holding the door for girls to a far more angelic gesture: "I hold the door for boys." Nicely developed adult figures, including Suds's mother and Mrs. Simms, add to the story's comedy and warmhearted quality. A climactic good deed by Suds takes place just before the announcement of the first halo award, the results of which few readers will see coming. An entertaining lead-in to this earnest hero's fourth-grade year. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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