The School Story

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
January/February 2003

By Andrew Clements, Reviewed by Jill Giornelli

The School Story book cover

The School Story by Andrew Clements; Simon & Schuster
Books For Young Readers: New York, 2001; $16

Have you ever wondered how children get their books published? I know I have. Well, this whole book is an example of how one girl, Natalie, gets the story she wrote made into a real book (and a bestseller). Natalie is twelve years old, but she is still an amazing author. Her best friend is Zoe, and it was all Zoe’s idea for the book to be published. Zoe is one of my favorite characters in this book. She is brave, smart, funny, and a great friend. She and Natalie are very different, but they help each other out. Without Zoe, Natalie would never have had the courage to try and publish her book, or have figured out how to. Zoe and Natalie’s relationship, as you will find out, is a big part of the book.

One of the reasons I liked this book so much was that I could relate to how Natalie feels about her work. I really like to write, but I don’t like to let many other people see my creations. I’m sort of shy, and I would never have had the courage to send my work to a publisher. But the way Natalie gets her story published (with Zoe’s help) is something I never could have dreamed of doing. It’s all very clever and well thought out, and it involves a lot of courage. If it were me doing that, I would probably have chickened out in the first part of the process. I also think that it was very interesting how Zoe planned the whole thing out. It made this the kind of book you didn’t want to put down until you figured out what was going to happen to Natalie and Zoe next.

Another reason I liked this book so much was that, through what was happening to Natalie, you learned a lot about the publishing process too. It helps that Natalie’s mom is a publisher, and so, as she explains things more clearly to Natalie, it’s like she’s explaining things more clearly to you. I think it was smart of Andrew Clements to make her mom do this, because it really helps young kids understand what happens after they send their work out.

But the parts in this book that were the most touching to me were all the parts when Natalie thought about her dad. Natalie’s father died a few years before this book was set, so he only appears in memories. The way she thinks of him and remembers him is so sweet to me. My dad is still alive, but it makes me think about how I feel about him, and how much I love him. When I read the part in Natalie’s story about the dad it made me cry because I knew that Natalie was really writing her story for her father. It was amazing to me how Andrew Clements can make you laugh, cry, and learn about publishing in a 196-page book. One of the only things I didn’t like about this book was that it never gave a copy of The Cheater, Natalie’s book. It sounded very good and I really wanted to read it, even though it was made up.

Other than that, I really liked this book, and it is even one of my favorites now. From the illustrations to the exciting style of writing, this book is a true inspiration to all young writers, and I would suggest it to anyone who loves to write.

The School Story Jill Giornelli

Jill Giornelli, 9
Atlanta, Georgia

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