Author: Candace Fleming
ISBN: 978-0-440-42229-7
Publisher: Yearling and Imprint of Random House Children’s Books

Click Here To Purchase The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

As an educator I taught children with many different academic strengths and weaknesses. Never dwelling on the negative and focusing on the positive I learned early on how to work with students that can sometimes be over zealous, rambunctious, and extremely precocious. It seemed that after my first year, which I call the make it or break it year, I was given the classes which would challenge a seasoned educator at best. All this brings me to Candace Fleming’s The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School.

Our story unfolds with the start of the school year. The principal of Aesop Elementary School was in dire need of a teacher for this fourth grade class. She hires a man whose credentials do not match up to what you would expect of a potential educator. Stating that he was a translator for Bigfoot, discovered the lost city of Atlantic and studies at the Institute for Misbehaved Monkeys in Coochie-Coochie, helps to set the stage for what proves to both principal, the staff and the students, that the unexpected might just be what everyone needs and appearances are not always what they seem.

The students in the fourth grade in Aesop Elementary School are unique, but smart. They are insightful and extremely creative. They make their presence known to their teacher and their friends in this humorous book about a group of loud, boisterous and lovable fourth graders written by author Candace Fleming. Bringing back great memories and resembling some of the classes that I taught, I immediately fell in love with the students and the innovative way Mr. Jupiter worked and motivated them to embrace knowledge and learning. His methods might be considered a little unorthodox, the but the end result will astonish you.

Each of the characters in the book has a name that not only fits his/her personality but also describes their position in the school. From the lovely librarian, Ms. Paige Turner to the music teacher Mr. Halfnote the reader will fall in love with each character.

When Calvin Tallywong’s wish to go back to kindergarten instead of having to do multiplication comes true, he never expects what is in store for him. He has to become part of the class and participate in all of the activities that the teacher sets out for her kindergarten class and more. Sometimes wishes that come true are not all are not what you expect.

As part of my position as Dean of Discipline I had to supervise the lunchroom. I think that Ms. Bunz ran a really tight ship and had the job under control. I supervised my lunchroom but not in quite the same way. With over 500 children in the lunchroom and more 2 or 3 grades eating during one lunch period, I never believed that total silence was the answer. I did require that they speak in their speaking voice without shouting or yelling. Children need an outlet to speak to their friends and have fun at recess within the limits of a safe environment. I think that Ms. Bunz’s idea of a silent lunchroom was extreme but what the students did when she left was really typical making the book more realistic and the lunchroom incidents humorous.

Mr. Valentine Jupiter, the man who is hired to take on the herculean job of teaching these children is a child at heart himself. He is innovative, strict in his own way and sets up realistic rules. These intelligent and highly motivated students learn to follow his way of thinking.  Mr. Valentine reminds me of Ms. Frizzle without the school bus. He has his own brand of disguises; stories and ways to make each and every student in his class feel special, excel and loved.

The stories make you laugh. They are heartwarming and endear the students, teachers and the staff to the reader. As an educator I would definitely encourage the students in my school to read this book. I would encourage the teachers to use the morals at the end of the story to teach Character Education in a more meaningful way.

The author, Candace Fleming would tell stories as a young child to her classmates about her three-legged cat, the ghost in her attic. In the first grade she told her teacher that her family had taken a vacation to Paris, France when of course they did not. Imaginative, innovative and unique in the way she tells her stories and defines each chapter with a single moral at the end. I feel that this book is not only a great read for a children to make them laugh, smile but learn some important life-long lessons too.

Click Here To Purchase The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School