This was a little thrift store find which we picked up because it was a Newberry Award winner (and priced at a quarter). It was written for a ten year old readership and flows smoothly enough to keep an adult’s interest. The story is somewhat unpredictable and artfully told; I found it delightful and consumed it in just a few hours.
The plot is in the title. Set in a one-room schoolhouse, a group of farm children wish to complete their academic year after their teacher leaves town to care for a family emergency. Since the tight-fisted school board director doesn’t wish to pay for a replacement teacher, though, the children decide to finish secretly on their own, electing the oldest girl to be their teacher.
As far-fetched as the premise is, the author does an excellent job of making it a believable scenario. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and local color especially; Avi communicates the hardships of poverty and farm life so naturally that I felt I could relate to everything they experienced. Furthermore, the underlying theme of little children wanting so badly to finish their school year that they will extend themselves to such lengths may seem absurd, but is handled well enough to be entirely plausible (and, of course, is a great positive message for the young readers). Click here to get a copy on Amazon.