by Rob Buyea
Featuring a mixed up group of sixth graders, this novel explores the struggles faced by each student and how they evolve to become better human beings by their teachers. When they first enter class, the students discover their assigned teacher is replaced by retiree Mrs. Woods, a no-nonsense straightforward educator. Along with her, they will learn math and science from Mrs. Magenta, a more relaxed and care-free individual. For most of them including Trevor, Mrs. Woods is an unwelcome sight. She taught some of their parents so they know her practical and non-lenient nature could make the school year a hard one. Others, such as aspiring future lawyer Natalie can’t grasp Mrs. Magenta’s teaching approach. The novel’s chapters alternate between the main characters: Gavin, who has trouble reading certain words; Randi, who is forced by her mother to become a gymnast;
Scott, an overall good kid with good intentions that don’t always
seem to go right; Natalie, the daughter of lawyers who lives with a strong sense of right and wrong; and Trevor, considered a bully by his peers although no one is aware of what he must endure at home. As mandatory tests arrive, the six devise a plan to ace the tests so they can continue to learn in their current setting and have a better chance of placing in the upper Grade 7 level class for the following year.