The long-awaited prequel to the bestseller Fourth Grade Rats.
George (aka “Suds”) Morton has heard that in third grade you’re supposed to be an angel... but what does that mean, exactly? It means that his teacher, Mrs. Simms, will hold a competition every week to see which student deserves to be awarded “the halo” - which student is best-behaved, kindest to others, and, in short, perfect. Suds is determined to be the first to earn the halo, but being good all the time can be pretty stressful. Does he have to be good even outside of school? (Does he have to be nice to his annoying little sister?) And if Mrs. Simms doesn’t actually see him doing a good deed, does it even count?
A warm, funny return to elementary school from master storyteller Jerry Spinelli.
Reviews and Awards
Autumn 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List
Kansas State Reading Circle
“Spinelli doesn’t miss a beat in recreating the characters from [Fourth Grade Rats] and never reveals any hint of Suds’ fourth-grade future. He lets readers into Suds’ 8-year-old mind without condescension. His problems and concerns are treated comically but with genuine kindness. Suds is innocent, gullible and trusting; he is also entirely good-hearted. Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Third-graders are notoriously competitive, and Spinelli has his finger on the pulse of that age group. Suds’s first-person account rings true, as does his agitation with his little sister, his not-so-secret crush on Judy Billings, and his uncomfortable friendship with cynical new-kid Joseph. Frequent black-and-white illustrations… move the story along while supporting unsure readers. Kids who first met Suds in Fourth Grade Rats will enjoy this prequel, while “cats” (and maybe even “babies”) anxious to know what’s ahead in school will identify with the wide-eyed protagonist while longing to be angels themselves.” - Horn Book
"Spinelli works in some interesting concepts, such as levels of niceness (positive actions versus cessation of negative actions) and the questionable value of goal-oriented goodness. A prequel to Spinelli’s Fourth Grade Rats (1991), this accessible chapter book features a simply written, first-person narrative and believable, true-to-third-grade characters. Illustrations include plenty of black-and-white pictures and a clever, eye-catching image on the jacket." - Booklist
"Spinelli’s careful characterizations give the story its emotional honesty, and Suds’s obsession with snagging the halo - and his resulting angst—inspire some genuinely funny moments…. Nicely developed adult figures, including Suds’s mother and Mrs. Simms, add to the story’s comedy and warmhearted quality. A climactic good deed by Suds takes place just before the announcement of the first halo award, the results of which few readers will see coming. An entertaining lead-in to this earnest hero’s fourth-grade year." - Publishers Weekly
“The questions Suds raises—Why be good if no one sees it? Are you really a “good loser” if you’re still upset on the inside? - are worthy ones for middle-grade discussion… The quick pace and the book’s brevity make this lesson go down easily, and Spinelli does a decent job of capturing third-grade thoughts and emotions. Fans of Suds from Spinelli’s Fourth Grade Rats will likely want to catch up here on Suds’ prior year.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This beginning chapter book moves at an enjoyably brisk pace; readers will appreciate the familiar school and home settings, and they’ll look forward to meeting the characters again in a forthcoming book. A story kids will relate to, with valuable, down-to-earth messages about character and motives.” - School Library Journal
“Spinelli explores a unique behavior modification technique and gets the reader ready for Fourth Grade Rats. The actions and thoughts of Suds will amuse teachers who chose this title as a read-aloud. Spinelli writes Suds with an understanding of how third graders think. This is a recommended read for those in third grade, those getting ready for third grade, and those who teach them!” - Library Media Connection, Highly Recommended
Illustrated Chapter Book
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Page Count: 160
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes