Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera
It must be acknowledged that many parents are too busy to properly care for their children. But Ms. Rapscott’s School is only for those children of the very busiest parents in the world. These parents receive a letter of acceptance along with an appropriately sized box for the easy packing and shipping of their daughters.
The girls arrive at the school run by Ms. Rapscott, herself a former neglected child, and her two highly resourceful and efficient Welsh Corgis, Lewis and Clark. There they learn all sorts of things from How to Get Lost on Purpose to “the Difference Between Tall Kitchen Garbage Bags and Heavy Duty Trash Bags”. Luckily for the reader, the former is expounded upon while the latter takes place, quite mercifully, off page. It’s this mix of fantasy and highly practical advice that gives the book much of its charm.
Fortunately, Primavera keeps the reasons for parents being busy in the strictly fantastical realm: extreme exercisers, chef/dancers, cinderblock manufacturing cosmetic surgeons, but I suspect many mothers will admit their favorite is the mother who is too busy writing a mommy blog to parent her own child. Keeping this light should prevent this from hitting too close to home for children who are legitimately overlooked at home.
This would be a huge hit with third graders I’d expect, lots of my students would have just devoured this, and lucky for them, it has all the markings of being the first in a series.
One small complaint – Dahlia Thistle lisps and Ms. Rapscott tells her to enunciate. Children with speech problems cannot fix them simply by being ordered to pronounce things the proper way. She later loses the lisp, implying that all that is needed to overcome it is a desire to be grown up and mature, which clearly is not an option in real life.
Age Recommendation: Grades 3-5 will get the most enjoyment out of this. I expect that younger students might like it as a read aloud and there’s nothing worrying in the content should your first or second grader be reading above grade level.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – The girls make a joke about Ms. Rapscott having a boyfriend (at this juncture the only male characters are a pair of Welsh Corgis).
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – Fay was at risk of being squashed when she failed to open her parachute.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – Annabelle worries about getting eaten by sharks or being burnt to a crisp by UV rays or being stung by a jellyfish. Annabelle speculates that a girl is probably mashed up under a rock. There are some other random speculations about bad things that could befall someone, like falling down a well, but there is never any fear that any of these things will come to pass.