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Bookshelf: Turning Pages 

It’s back to school and back to the books

An equally memorable and offbeat teacher is Monsieur Noel in Susie Morgenstern’s “Book Of Coupons” Viking, 2001, $13.99. The fifth graders of Madam Curie Elementary School are disappointed to find that their new teacher is a fat, untidy old man. Things start to get interesting when he presents each student with a book of coupons allowing them to come in late, sing in

class, tell a lie, not answer a question, etc. As the kids use their coupons, Monsieur Noel uses their experiences to teach them valuable life lessons: the greatest one being to live each day with gratitude and gusto. A fun and heartwarming book for ages 10 and up.

“The Year of Miss Agnes” by Kirkpatrick Hill. Margaret McElderry Books, 2000, $4.99. All of us remember that special teacher that opened up the world for us. For 10-year-old Fredrika, an Athabascan girl living in a remote Alaskan village, that teacher is Miss Agnes. Unlike her predecessors, Miss Agnes shows her respect for the children and their community by encouraging each child’s intellect with creativity and concern. Details of Athabascan life and Fredrika’s blossoming joy in learning make this a good read for ages 9 and up.

A gift of a diary provides the framework for Tomie DePaola’s “Things Will Never Be the Same” G.P. Putnam, 2003, $11.99. The author tells stories of his family, friends, church and school activities during1941, the year he was in the first grade. Told with warmth and sensitivity and illustrated with DePaola’s characteristic drawings, this is a good first “chapter book” for ages 7 and
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