If you’re a fourth-grader in New York, you probably understand just how Julio Sanchez feels! Standardized tests are the pits, and too many people focus on getting a great score. Should you freak out?!? Nah! Just keep paying attention in class, doing your homework, and having fun when you can! Oh… And read this book, too!
Johanna Hurwitz’s book is great because it focuses on more than the “impending doom” of the statewide exams. We learn about Julio’s family — like his abuela (grandmother) who is trying to learn English and his older brother (Ramon) who is practicing to get his driver’s license. We also get the opportunity to learn about Julio’s best friend (Lucas) and the class know-it-all (Cricket).
One really cool thing about this book is how the author lets us read some of Julio’s sample test questions and “hear” Mrs. Schraalenburgh’s awesome advice for her would-be-test-takers: stay calm, don’t worry about exam content because you have been learning this type of stuff without even realizing it, move on if you don’t know an answer, use your extra time at the end to go back and work on tough problems… Mrs. Schraalenburgh (Julio’s teacher) is just so wonderful at keeping her cool, throughout the story. Instead of stressing students out by constantly “prepping” them for the upcoming exams (like the other fourth-grade teachers), she insists on keeping learning normal — and even fun. (It’s just too bad that not all teachers are like Mrs. Schraalenburgh!)
If you want to find out whether Ramon gets his license and how Julio does on his exams, though, you’d better read the book for yourself. My lips are sealed…