The Secret School
Author: Avi
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/2004 (pb)
ISBN:0152046992 (pb); 0152163751 (hb)
Age Levels: 8-12

Book Review

It's always exciting to pick up a new book by Avi. You know you'll be meeting interesting characters, and seeing, perhaps for the first time, a place and time so vivid, so authentic, you feel as if you could step into the scene and be perfectly at home. Such is the case with The Secret School.

The time is 1925; the place, rural Colorado. Ida Bidson is 14 and wants more than anything to go high school so she can become a teacher. All she has to do is pass her eighth grade exams at the end of the school year. Unfortunately, the teacher of her one-room school suffers a family emergency and must leave. The school is shut down. And so is Ida's dream of becoming a teacher.

Shut down, that is, until Ida and another eighth-grade student, Tom, come up with a plan to keep the school open—with Ida serving as teacher. Knowing the school board wouldn't approve of their plan, they decide to keep it secret.

Luckily, the children have an ally, Miss Gertrude Sedgwick, the County Examiner, who stumbles onto their plan one day. She agrees to give Ida and Tom their eighth grade exit exams, but she also requires all the other children take and pass a final exam also. The pressure is on. Ida must not only make sure she passes her own exam, but all the other children pass theirs also.

A strong heroine, historical details and dialog, and a fast-paced plot make for an inspiring tale.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2005 Education Oasis

About the Author

Avi has written many acclaimed novels for middle grade and teen readers, including his Newbery Medal winner, Crispin. He lives in Denver, Colorado. Be sure to visit the author's website.