Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants

RedReviewStarK-Gr 2—In her latest adventure, Louise Cheese takes an academic turn as she begins second grade. Inspired by her older sister, Penelope, she decides that she can become a Big Cheese not by acting or wearing sparkly shoes but by being a straight-A student. "If she could get straight As, everybody would want to be her friend. She would probably even get to skip a grade—two grades—three grades! She would probably be promoted to college!" Alas, Louise's new teacher turns out to be a demanding taskmistress—and a stingy giver of As. When the no-nonsense woman is briefly replaced by a laissez-faire sub, Miss Sprinkles, Louise finally earns her coveted A-but so do all her classmates. Upon Mrs. Pearl's return, Louise receives her first report card and begins to appreciate the value of her teacher's Bs. With its snappy pace, numerous characters (including a talking dog), and narrative text alternating with dialogue balloons, this tale would work well as a dramatic read-aloud by an adult and/or several children. Watercolor and black-line illustrations energetically depict the irrepressible Louise and host of supporting characters; the scenes representing the child's imagination are especially funny. Comiclike endpapers depict female big-cheese and little-cheese smarty-pants, both real and fictitious, and underscore the importance of striving for one's personal best at any age.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
As the school year starts, Louise hopes for As from her new teacher. Mrs. Pearl, however, has high expectations: "You can do better, Miss Cheese." A substitute takes over for a day; she has no expectations and makes no demands, and Louise realizes she misses Mrs. Pearl. Pink-tastic watercolor illustrations humorously capture Louise's wild imagination and her energetic mood swings.

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