3 out of 4 stars
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I'll admit it: I love school supplies. I can't get enough fancy binders, pens, and note cards. So when I saw a children's book about a school where there were living school supplies, I desperately needed to check it out!
Readmore Elementary by Portia McGowan Green tells the story of Penny Pencil returning to school for her first day of fourth grade. You may have guessed from her name that Penny Pencil is an animate pencil, and you'd be right! She meets up with Sherry Sharpener, her best friend, and the two go through various classes before learning who the new school librarian is.
I really liked that Readmore Elementary puts a positive spin on school. As Penny and Sherry go from class to class, Penny points out the good things she experiences. Science class teaches her how the world works, and her homeroom teacher "made learning fun and let us be the characters in each of our classroom stories." Sure they ended up with some homework, and Penny doesn't seem to be a fan of math, but there's still a positive feeling overall about going to school. And this positivity about school is reinforced by Penny being a fourth-grader. After all, if a fourth-grader could still be happy about school, then maybe a child going to their first day of school won't be such a bad thing after all!
The artwork in the book leaves something to be desired. Images of individual characters appear between paragraphs, typically as they're first introduced, but they could all use some polish. Sherry Sharpener has white gaps between her hair and the top of her sharpener head, and the bigger sharpener hole actually goes over one of the sides a bit. Ms. Clinda Clip's paperclip body would've been rejected from the paperclip factory in a heartbeat. Even Lady Bookmore, the book "woman" on the cover, has major issues. Speaking of Lady Bookmore, that exact image is used three times throughout the book (not including the cover), and she's holding the same book in each. Also, it's weird that some of the animate school supplies have human heads where others don't. To complicate things even further, some teachers appear fully human!
The casual tone in the book is easy to use for reading aloud. The book breezes by just as quickly as Penny's first day back at school, making it a quick read. There's also the inclusion of discussion regarding the magic of books and imagination. While I really wish that Portia had hired a professional artist, and I found four grammatical errors, my rating of Readmore Elementary is 3 out of 4 stars. I would've given it 2.5 stars if I could have, but the implied encouragement to enjoy school led me to round the score up.
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