Reviews for SOS File


Booklist Reviews 2004 June #1
Gr. 4-6. In another collection of stories by the authors of My Dog, My Hero (2000), students describe distressing situations in which they needed help. Framed as extra-credit class assignments for Mr. Magro's class, the 12 first-person narratives reveal a range of personalities and situations, from a dramatic runaway go-cart ride and facing the consequences of eating one's fund-raising candy to overcoming fear of failure in playing baseball. The concluding story about coping with a learning challenge is revealed as Mr. Magro's own, illustrating that teachers are people, too. From familiar difficulties (losing a beloved object) to extraordinary ones (the sobering but ultimately uplifting account of being rescued as a newborn from a motel dumpster), the stories will inspire thought and discussion about the different kinds of crises that may touch our lives. The accessible format, lively tellings, and diverse characters may also appeal to reluctant readers older than the target middle-grade audience. Black-and-white, cartoonlike drawings enliven the stories. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Encouraged by their teacher, students write stories about moments of crisis they have faced. Some deal with serious issues (being abandoned as a baby), but several, such as Jerry's quandary after eating thirty-eight of the chocolate bars he was supposed to sell as a fundraiser, are more humorous in tone. The breezy illustrations are well suited to this fast-paced volume. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 May #1
Mr. Margo gives his class the opportunity to earn extra credit by writing a personal essay for the "SOS File." Twelve students submit essays, and Mr. Margo tells them eleven will get extra credit. Wondering who didn't get the promised credit, they each read their stories about times when they would have liked to have put out an S.O.S. One student met a bear; another swam with sharks; one lost his favorite hat; and another was left in a Dumpster as a baby. But who's not getting credit? The mother and daughters trio behind My Dog, My Hero (2000) are back with a more creative conceit to tie stories together. Though some of the children don't always sound like children, this collection will be a hit with its target audience and is perfect for encouraging reluctant readers. Howard's illustrations are spot-on funny and frightening as usual. An excellent package. (Fiction. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 May #3
Newbery winner Byars and her two daughters, with whom she collaborated on My Dog, My Hero, offer a collection of fictional students' responses to their teacher's request for stories about times that they needed to call for help. Unfortunately, what emerges is a mishmash of a dozen tales, not all of them sticking to the theme. For instance, a boy whose parents are divorced and who considers himself a complete loser on the baseball field tells a tale that builds to a poignant moment when he hits the winning home run during the first game his father ever attended, but, as he writes in conclusion, "I didn't need an SOS after all." Other stories, in adhering to the childlike voice of the student "authors," detract from the momentum of the tale, such as an account of two girls' calamitous test ride on their homemade go-cart (after the narrator wipes out, injured, a kid claps-"This wasn't exactly the applause I was looking for"). The highlight is "Miracle on Main Street," in which a girl who was found as in infant in a dumpster recounts how she and her adoptive parents tracked down the man who rescued her. Though inconsistent, these anecdotal accounts-embellished by Howard's charcoal-and-wash illustrations, appropriately reflecting the mood of each piece-make for short takes that may well boost the confidence of reluctant readers. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 June
Gr 3-5-Mr. Magro asks his students to write about a big emergency, for "fun and extra credit," and the 12 stories that follow are the result of that assignment. (All but one receives extra credit.) The situations described are as varied as the personalities that emerge as the children read their stories aloud. Some tales are poignant, others are humorous; all are as credible as the characters sketched. Some youngsters are determined; with the help of her mom, Joy Frazure tracks down the man who saved her as an infant, just to thank him. Others demonstrate quick thinking or the ability to rethink opinions: Abe Lincoln's words save Augustus T. Bruewhiler III from a bear during a camping trip while a goat helps Robbie Robinson change his mind about mean Mrs. Meany. The final story-the one that didn't get extra credit-by Anonymous reveals how an astute teacher helped shape a boy who had trouble learning and had to repeat first grade. It's Mr. Magro's own inspiring story. Lighthearted sketches enhance characterization and add to the already open format. Children's ages are not specifically mentioned, broadening the appeal of this engaging, plausible, and highly readable collection of anecdotes.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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