Paperback, 55 pages, 5.5x8.2, English
by Michelle Edwards
From Publishers Weekly
This first book in the Jackson Friends chapter book series introduces Pa Lia Vang on her first day of second grade as a new girl at Jackson Magnet School. In plain language, Edwards (Chicken Man) describes the universal experience of the start of classes: "Jackson Magnet smelled just like the first day of school. Pa Lia could smell new shoes, new pencils, and clean floors." Any student who has suffered from school jitters will identify with Pa Lia's nervous dawdling while her brother walks her to school and recognize the feeling of a mouth "stuffed with cotton" and a stomach "filled with a thousand fluttering butterflies." She soon meets an amiable classmate, Calliope, who guides her to their room, and Calliope's jealous best friend, Howie ("Howardina Geraldina Paulina Maxina Gardenia Smith"), who initially refuses to speak to her but whom Pa Lia wins over by day's end. The requisite standbys are all here (Matthew "Stinky" Stern farts in class and calls the bespectacled Pa Lia "four-eyes"), but black-and-white illustrations that mix reality with Pa Lia's wishful and fearful thoughts add some spunk. Ages 6-9. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Pa Lia Vang's first day of second grade starts out a little rough. Her new school, Jackson Magnet, is huge and intimidating and her brother leaves her to find her classroom on her own. When she's rescued by a classmate, Calliope, the day starts to improve, but Howie (short for Howardina), Calliope's best friend, wants nothing to do with the new girl. And then Pa Lia gets all three of them in trouble by passing notes in class. Though she tells their teacher that the incident was her fault, she is convinced that Howie and Calliope will never like her now. But they think that the new girl was brave to tell the truth, and she has two friends before she knows it. Pa Lia is believably insecure and frightened, and Howie is wonderfully skeptical of inviting the unknown newcomer into her safely established friendship with Calliope. The seesaw of events, going from good to bad to good again, is realistic of any first-day experience. The simple text, large print, short chapters, and illustrations will appeal to beginning chapter-book readers. Both small and full-page illustrations show the multicultural diversity of Jackson Magnet; the three girls are definite individuals, each very different, yet equally appealing. A good start to a new series.