The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

by Candace Fleming

Every class has a reputation, and the incoming fourth graders of Aesop Elementary... read more

Every class has a reputation, and the incoming fourth graders of Aesop Elementary School have been described as “precocious,” “robust,” or “just plain naughty.” In fact, their infamous reputation made it hard to hire a new fourth grade teacher until Mr. Jupiter applied for the job. With a varied resume that includes dog groomer, Bigfoot translator, and dodo bird expedition leader, Mr. Jupiter seems ready for any challenge his students might bring. And, in fact, Mr. Jupiter has no problems keeping the class in line. As the school year proceeds, each chapter presents a classroom situation which culminates with an Aesopian moral. When Calvin Tallywong is stumped by multiplication facts, he wishes he were back in kindergarten, where the going was easy. Summoned to the kindergarten classroom as a student helper, he’s quickly disenchanted by the reality of five year olds’ behavior and discovers to “be careful what you wish for—it might come true.” In a variant of “the boy who cried wolf,” a student raises a false alarm about the approach of the martinet lunchroom monitor, enjoying the short-term attention he receives. His fellow students soon disregard his warnings and he learns the hard way that “liars are not believed even when they tell the truth.” This riotous and clever twist on traditional Aesop tales is laugh-out-loud funny from the first page to the last. (Ages 8–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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