Third Grade Angels

By . 2 CDs. 1:40 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-46621-0. $39.99.
Gr 2–4—George's nickname is "Suds" because he heads for a bubble bath whenever he's feeling "chipmunky." He's in the third grade now, and the schoolyard chant goes: "First grade babies! Second grade cats! Third grade angels! Fourth grade rats!" The quest to be the first to earn the class cardboard halo for angelic behavior drives Suds headfirst into the competition—picking up trash, mastering cursive, and holding doors open, even for boys. He dives into the street to save a dog, but wonders if anyone saw it. Was his "slam dunk" of a good deed wasted? The race for the halo is further complicated because Suds can't see the progress of his opponents—err, classmates. As listeners are questioning Suds's motivation, the story ends with a magnificent act of selflessness and purity of spirit. Spinelli's prequel (2012) to Fourth Grade Rats (1991, both Scholastic) is as sweet and amusing as it's almost perfect hero. Johnny Heller's enunciation is slightly too precise for a third grader, but his expression is perfect. At the end of the story, there's an interview with Spinelli that might be above the heads of the target audience. An enjoyable chapter book.—Jane Newschwander, Fluvanna County Public Schools, VA

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