The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Trouble at School- September 2007

Selected and annotated by Sara Schepis


Abbott, Tony. Firegirl. New York: Little, 2006.
Jessica is a new student in Tom’s seventh-grade class at a Catholic school. The class is unsure how to react to the fact that Jessica has been badly burned in a fire. When Tom forms a tentative friendship with Jessica, it will change his future.

Carvell, Marlene. Sweetgrass Basket. New York: Dutton, 2005.
Mattie and Sarah are Mohawk sisters sent to live a boarding school after the death of their mother. The tale of the girls is written in prose poems portraying their isolation and suffering under harsh treatment and corporal punishment. Their treatment leads to Mattie’s death and Sarah’s grief at the CarlisleIndianIndustrialSchool.

Child, Lauren. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School; illus. by Lauren Child. London: Orchard Books, 2004.
Lola insists that she is too small for school and has a list of reasons why she needn’t attend. He older brother, Charlie, has answers for all her objections, however, and she decides she will go to school. (Her invisible friend is going, after all!)

 Friedman, Laurie. Back to School, Mallory; illus. by Tamar Schmitz. Minneapolis:Carolrhoda, 2004.
There are several reasons why Mallory McDonald isn’t happy with the start of her third grade year: her friend Joey is too busy to pay attention to her, her part in the school play is an eggplant, and worst of all, Mallory’s mother is the new music teacher. But Mallory has a flair for getting out of difficult situations as well as into them.

 Harris, Robie H. I Am Not Going to School Today!; illus. By Jan Ormerod. New York: McElderry, 2003.
A little boy gets ready for his first day of school but then decides he is not going. He will go on the second day of school…because then you know everything. (Like where your cubby is and if they have juice.) His parents convince him to take his stuffed monkey, Hank, and see if Hank will like the first day of school.

 Kantor, Melissa. Confessions of a Not It Girl. New York: Hyperion, 2004.
Jan Miller is struggling through her last year of high school—applying to colleges and being torn in affection between the handsome Tom Richmond and old friend Josh Gardener while her friend has just been named an “It Girl” of New York by Chic. But she discovers that her senior year might end up all right after all, if not as planned.

 Mason, Jane B. and Sarah Hines Stephens. The Princess School : If the Shoe Fits. New York: Scholastic, 2004.
Four well-known princesses—(Cinder)Ella, Rose Red, Snow White, and Rapunzel—are all starting out in Princess school. They become fast friends and must use their teamwork to stand up to Ella’s evil stepsisters before the Coronation Ball begins.

McGhee, Alison. Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth; illus. by Harry Bliss. New York: Harcourt, 2004.
The young narrator of this story listens to a bit of gossip that the new first grade teacher is an alien who steals teeth from her students. The girl has a loose tooth and feels she can only protect it by keeping her mouth closed at all times. She is surprised when at last her tooth flies out…and the teacher rewards her with a lollipop.

Moriarty, Jaclyn. The Year of Secret Assignments. New York: Levine/Scholastic, 2004.
Three students in a private school (Lydia, Emily, and Cass) are asked to become “pen-friends” with three students from a “tough” school (Sebastian, Charlie, and Matthew.) The simple assignment leads to zany drama, illegal activity, and war between the schools. This story is told entirely in the form of letters, diaries, and other documents within the plot.

Myers, Walter Dean. Shooter. New York: Amistad/Harper Tempest, 2004.
When Leonard Gray opens fire on his classmates he kills one and then takes his own life. Len’s friends Cameron and Carla had come to school with him only that morning. This title portrays the actions, reactions, and theories surrounding the aftermath of the crime as all involved try to make sense of what happened.

Papademetriou, Lisa. Sixth-Grade: Glommers, Norks, and Me. New York: Hyperion, 2005.
Allie (a “soccer jock”) and Tamara (a fashion expert) are best friends moving into sixth grade. They assume their friendship won’t be any different but a new school and new friends make for a changing and sometimes painful relationship. Allie comes to realize that such changes may be confusing but they might not be all bad.

Prose, Francine. After. Cotler/HarperCollins, 2003.
Central High School is slowly becoming strangled with extreme “safety measures” after a nearby school shooting has alarmed the community. Dr. Willner, a clinical psychologist, insists these measures of his are necessary but they soon have alarming results…up to the disappearance of the entire student body.

Rodman, Mary Ann. First Grade Stinks!; illus. by Beth Spiegel. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2006.
Haley is not at all happy with the move from kindergarten to first grade. (No colorful rooms, no share time?) Her teacher shows her how first grade has its own things to love.

Siebold, Jan. My Nights at Improv. Morton Grove, Illinois: Whitman, 2005.
Lizzy is an eighth-grader looking for a quiet place in school when she finds her study spot overlooks the rehearsals of an improv theater group. The group’s boldness in taking risks encourages Lizzy to do the same, despite her usual reticence and the taunts of her fellow classmate, Vanessa.

 Strete, Craig Kee. The Rattlesnake Who Went to School; illus. by Lynne Cravath. New York: Putnam, 2004.
Crowboy is afraid of going to school. He decides he will be a rattlesnake because they don’t need friends. (Rattlesnakes don’t eat hot dogs at lunch and they hiss at song-time.) A friendly girl brings him a rattlesnake snack the next day—bugs—and they decide to be rattlesnakes/friends together.


Morrison, Tony. Remember: the Journey to School Integration. New York: Houghton, 2004.
This title offers a look at the story of integration through a collection of sepia photographs of the era. The captions provide a deeply thoughtful commentary in the form of fictionalized statements of what the people in the photos might have been thinking. Includes photo notes and a civil rights/integration timeline.