When it comes to Sharon Creech, I feel there are two categories of fans. Those who love everything she does, and those who mostly like her work. Oh, I am sure there are a few people who do not like her at all, but those people are wrong. I am in that second category. I have liked most of the things I have read, but have found a few special ones. I like A Smart, Smart School, but it is not my favorite. However, if you are looking for a fun book about school and what it is for, this will be the book for you. This is a companion to A Fine, Fine School (which I have not read).
Mr. Keene, the principal of a very fine school, allows his students to express themselves creatively, and has a smooth running and happy school.. But when he has a medical emergency a new principal comes in. And he is nothing like Mr. Keene! He wants a smart, smart school. Not one where people sing and make get-well cards. And of course, there must be tests! Lots of tests! One day the students find a way to tell Mr. Keene they want him back at school, and please do not give more tests. Mr. Keene, when returns, finds a way to balance both the need for creative outlets and testing.
The ending is obvious, but has some clever parts I did not expect. One was Mr. Keene does not really acknowledge the students outside his hospital window, but when he does, it is by coming outside in his hospital gown and a yellow blanket over his knees. I thought it was an odd, but realistic, and interesting piece of information to add. This stood out even more for me because of Anait Semirdzhyan’s illustrations. These images have a classically inspired feeling, but are contemporary.
While currently out, I read this via an online reader copy.