Back to Front and Upside Down

September 2012. 26p. 978-0-80285-541-8. 16.
PreS-Gr 1–Stan, a small anthropomorphic puppy, faces a big problem–his class is making birthday cards for the principal, but he just can’t get the hang of writing. He is despondent until a friend suggests that he approach their teacher for help. Gathering up some courage, Stan approaches Miss Catnip and discovers that he’s not the only one having trouble. After “lots and lots and lots of practice,” Stan’s writing improves and he not only creates a great card, but learns that he should always ask for help when he is struggling. Alexander’s mostly full-page illustrations of Stan and his animal friends are bright and cheerful. Though cartoonish, they expressively depict the change in Stan’s emotions–from isolation and sadness to accomplishment and happiness. The story is a tad didactic, but it teaches a good lesson. Students should have no trouble sympathizing with Stan’s learning difficulties and cheer for his success.–Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY

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