Saturday, May 14, 2011

Invisible Teacher: Flying Solo

Flying SoloI read Ralph Fletcher's Flying Solo in two bursts; I started it and then my fourth grade niece stole borrowed it when I described the setting -- a classroom of kids left with no teacher; through a bureacratic error no substitute appears for their class.  The kids decide to run things on their own, and thanks to the rule-following girls they mostly attend to the schedule their teacher left on the board for the missing substitute.

Of course, Fletcher has to raise the stakes a bit, so he has the class recovering from the death of a pupil several months ago. The most obviously affected is Rachel, who hasn't spoken since the death.  Other students face a sudden move, distant parents, or other typical kid issues.  I actually preferred the mundane problems much more than the big, traumatic DEATH thing.  The story moves along fairly quietly, told in a rotating mosaic of viewpoints, sometimes just the journal entries of various students,  sometimes focusing on their thoughts and observations.  It's a fun read, and the form reminded me of Because of Mr Terupt, although everything is squeezed into a few days instead of a school year, so the focus is more on a single transformative event, not growth over a year.  Of course, any book that leads a kid to pounce upon and read it gets props from me.  B

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