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Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants    by Elise Primavera & Diane Goode order for
Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants
by Elise Primavera
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

With the beginning of the new school year, Louise Cheese is determined to work hard and get straight A's. Of course, she wasn't expecting to be assigned to Mrs. Pearl's second grade class. Since rumor has it that Mrs. Pearl never gives A's poor Louise has her work cut out for her.

Unfortunately, in this instance the rumor is correct. Mrs. Pearl is a very demanding teacher. 'No matter how hard Louise tried, all Mrs. Pearl could say was, 'You can do better, Miss Cheese.''

By October Louise was convinced that Mrs. Pearl was the meanest teacher at Tapioca Elementary School. In fact, she wished 'Martians would land in the classroom and take Mrs. Pearl back to their spaceship'. If the space creatures wouldn't whisk her teacher away, then Louise wished that 'an escaped gorilla from the zoo would grab Mrs. Pearl and run away with her'.

Neither of those things happened, of course, but then one day Mrs. Pearl wasn't in class and a substitute took her place. Miss Sprinkles was very, very nice but best of all, she gave everyone A's on everything thing they did. Quality meant nothing and pretty soon Louise began to appreciate Mrs. Pearl and her demanding ways.

Eventually Mrs. Pearl returned and when report card time arrived, Louise didn't have all A's. She had all B's, but she realized they were honest grades that she had worked hard for and deserved.

Hats off to Elise Primavera for this humorous story for children five years of age and older. The underlying message here stresses two very important ideas grades have to be truly earned to have value and you don't need to have all A's to be a success.

This picture books provides a breath of fresh air and a return to sanity in a world of runaway grade inflation and the corresponding misconception that if you don't get all A's you are a failure. Bless you, Elise!

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