Mr. Wolf's Class #4: Field Trip by Aaron Nels Steinke, 169 pp, RL 3
Mr. Wolf's Class #4: Field Trip
Review Copy from Graphix
It's rare that I review more than the first or second book in a series, but Steinke's graphic novels about crazy fifth graders and their calm, if sometimes frazzled, teacher are books that I wait anxiously for and devour in one sitting. Steinke, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, captures the spirit of nine and ten-year-olds, picking up on the little things you might not notice unless you are around them all the time, embodying them in animal characters that make the stories even more entertaining. In Field Trip, the fourth book with these fifth graders, the Hazelwood Elementary kids are going to camp! Fifth grade camp! I will never forget going with my class - and meeting kids from other schools - and am grateful it's something I got to do. It was a joy to travel back in time and remember that while traveling into the mountains for some outdoor education.
Of course, there are ups and downs for the kids of Mr. Wolf's class. This is where Steinke excels at bringing the sometimes mundane, but delicate intricacies of being a fifth grader to the page with thoughtful kindness. Inseparable Randy and Aziza separate when they spend a little too much time together. Alone, Aziza isn't entirely rudderless and finds she is able to be open to new people and ideas. Abdi and Henry are drawn to sixth graders from the other school who push the boundaries, forcing them to make some important decisions. Then there is Penny - there is always a Penny in every class. She is the first one to get tired. She complains about being hot until one of the parent chaperones reminds her she can take off her jacket. And she is always asking, "Are we there yet?" On top of all this, Steinke doesn't miss a chance to teach readers right along with Mr. Wolf's class.
I can't wait to see what Mr. Wolf and his class get up to next, even if it's just the usual. Especially since, right now, there is no usual . . .