|written by Candace Fleming
Reader's Theater script available (thanks, Judy Freeman!)
Here's a chapter book of contemporary fables about a rambunctious group of fourth graders and their amazing teacher—the globe-trotting, Mayan-ceremonial-robe-wearing Mr. Jupiter—that is sure to delight students and teachers alike.
There's Calvin Tallywong, who wants to go back to kindergarten. But when he actually gets the chance, he's forced to do the squirrel dance and wear a school bus name tag. The moral of his story? Be careful what you wish for.
Then there's Amisha Spelwadi, who can spell wildebeest. No problem. When Mr. Jupiter asks the class to spell cat, all Amisha can come up with is kat. The moral: Don't count your chickens before they hatch.
Kids will laugh out loud as they learn tried-and-true lessons in this funny, fast-paced book.
Awards and Honors
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year 2008
CCBC Choices for 2008
Keystone to Reading (Pennsylvania) Book Award Nominee 2008-2009
Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee 2010
Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Nominee 2010
Hawaii Nene Book Award Nominee 2008-2009
Volunteer State Book Award Nominee 2009-2010
Read the reviews
A rowdy group of students and their eccentric teacher star in Fleming's collection of determinedly loopy vignettes, each of which ends with an Aesop-like moral. On the day before school opens, the frantic principal still has not found a teacher for the notoriously unruly fourth graders. In walks Mr. Jupiter, whose credentials include working as a translator for Bigfoot, discovering the lost city of Atlantis and studying at the Coochie-Coochie Institute for Misbehaved Monkeys; he is hired on the spot. When he refuses to react to his students' misbehavior, they think up pranks guaranteed to rile him, but no one dares to pull them off (moral: “It is one thing to talk about it, another to do it”). … there's plenty to laugh at and even to ponder.
No teacher wants to teach this year's fourth-grade class at Aesop Elementary. Just as Mrs. Struggles, the principal, is about to give up, Mr. Jupiter appears with a flawlessly huge resume. The class tests him, but he wins them over as the year progresses through these 23 stories. As the title and school's name hint, there's an Aesop connection. Each of the stories has a moral straight out of a fable. … this is a winner, and the final story seems to promise a fifth-grade sequel.