Format: ARC (Library binding available April, 2020)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? This story is about a very misunderstood class, 4X, at Purple Hill Elementary School. The problem with this class is that they seem to go through teachers at an incredible rate–some lasting only a few hours. What the class does not know is that they are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime and one student, Arlo, is documenting everything in his dinosaur notebook. The story begins with Arlo providing a little background information for the reader. Class 4X is considered the worst class in the history of the school. They are known as “unruly, disobedient, and unteachable”. One morning, their principal Ms. Weebly informs them that they have a new substitute teacher arriving soon named Mrs. Ogg. When this new teacher walks through the door, the children cannot believe their eyes. She is wearing a dress made of random patches of fur, her hair is flying in all different directions, she is wearing bone earrings, and she is carrying a gnarled wooden stick–she basically looks like a cavewoman! Mrs. Ogg seems to have a unique way of teaching and she spends a great deal of time marching around with the children, teaching them how to make paint with crushed-up plants, how to make tools out of rocks, and how to make a shelter out of twigs and leaves in the schoolyard. This all does seem very unusual to the children and the parents, but for the first time, the children are actually enjoying their new teacher. One day, she decides to take them on a field trip to the zoo. The only things the children are required to bring are a packed lunch, spending money, and a T-bone steak. Once the day of the field trip arrives, the children learn pretty early on that this is no ordinary field trip. Mrs. Ogg has somehow managed to take them to a zoo that children can only dream of–a zoo of dinosaurs! The children spend the day petting, feeding, and swimming with all different kinds of dinosaurs. At the end of the day, Mrs. Ogg must leave and the children will be getting a new permanent teacher–but something leads us to believe that this new teacher will take them on some new adventures as well.
There is another side story to this book besides the children going on a dinosaur field trip. Arlo documents in his journal some of the problems that this class has had in the past as far as being accepted and understood by others at the school. What has happened on this field trip is that Mrs. Ogg has helped the children each find their hidden talents so that they feel positive about themselves and as a class. This is seen when the new teacher arrives and she states that Mrs. Ogg had many positive comments about this class.
This is a great book for children who are learning to read larger stories. There are 139 pages divided into 22 chapters which makes it manageable to read as little or as much at a time. There is some artwork and journal entries that break up the text to be a little more palatable.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing.
To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children in the early elementary grades–either to read independently or to be read to by an adult. The story is engaging and there is enough suspense to keep a child wondering what will happen next.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: April 20, 2020