The Night Before Second Grade

Grosset & Dunlap. Jun. 2022. 32p. pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780593382745.
K-Gr 2–“‘Twas the night before second grade,/ I was out with my friend./ We couldn’t believe summer vacation/ had come to an end.” The tow-headed boy who narrates, with a slightly taller tow-headed friend, Jack, anticipates seeing students from first grade, reading longer poems, having a tough teacher, and getting to read chapter books, apparently off-limits until now. He and his family are white, but among those he sees the next day are two children with brown skin, a girl in a hijab, an Asian boy, and Jack; they show off their new shoes because they have all had growth spurts. The surprise of second grade is not the chapter books after all, but that his father is the teacher, who reassures everyone he will not play favorites. With awkward rhymes, bumpy scansion, and no real plot, this book has little to do with second graders. The chapter book subplot fades and Dad’s new job is a last-minute Hail Mary to infuse excitement but falls flat.
VERDICT Buy another copy of Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown by Paula Danziger, if the budget allows, but pass on this one.

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