Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

March 09, 2007

4 Kids in 5E & 1 Crazy Year

By Virginia Frances Schwartz
Rating: 3 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

When the fifth grade classrooms are too overcrowded one year in a New York City school, one new classroom is opened up--5E, with a new teacher named Ms. Hill. Destiny, Maximo, Giovanni and Willie are all chosen for the new classroom, scrunched between the kindergartens. All 4 students have different stories. Willie is homesick for Jamaica and his ailing grandmother, Giovanni is terrified he'll be held back because he can hardly read in English, Maximo is freshly back from living in shelters with his mother and angry with life, and Destiny is a pushy gossip, always looking to find out about everyone and everything. But all of their lives are transformed when Ms. Hill makes writing part of their lives. Every day the children write in their journals, making observations about the world around them and eventually, about their own feelings and experiences. Through their writing, they all learn and grow, overcoming their own personal problems. All four students take turns telling the story of their year in 5E, from some of the early reluctance to write to the frenzy of entering the fifth grade writing contest at the end of the year. They also tell the stories of each other as they begin to notice something outside of their own worlds. An inspirational and interesting story about the power of words and of people.