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Elizabeti's School
by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, illustrated by Christy Hale
(Lee & Low Books, 2002)
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In this third book in the Elizabeti series, the young Tanzanian girl discovers the joy of learning at school and finds a pleasant surprise at home. It's the first day of school, and Elizabeti is so excited she can hardly sit still long enough for Mama to braid her hair. When she arrives at school, she feels shy and wishes she had stayed home instead. While the teacher talks, Elizabeti wonders if her family misses her. She's happy when she leaves for the day, but in the evening she plays a game she learned at school and discovers she can use her new math skills to count her new kittens!
awards • reviews
• Best Children's Books of the Year for 2003, Bank Street College of Education

(Kindergarten–Grade 2) Elizabeti is excited about her first day of school and her new clothes, but when faced with the noisy, busy schoolyard, she becomes reticent. A friend leads her into a game similar to jacks, and she is eager to try it. In the classroom, she has difficulty concentrating because of her homesickness. At recess, with the encouragement of an older girl, she enjoys dancing, and, back in the classroom, she easily masters the counting lesson. However, once she is home, she's convinced that she doesn't want to return to class. During the evening, Elizabeti so impresses her family with the knowledge and skills she's learned that she decides that although home is best, she will "give school another try." This is the perfect story for sharing with young children, most of whom will understand the girl's bittersweet feelings. Her pride and sense of accomplishment in learning are a good lead-in for discussing the joy and purpose of school. As in the other stories about Elizabeti, her family life is rich in love and warmth, although it is apparent that the family is very poor. The predominantly watercolor and mixed-media illustrations help convey all the texture of family life in a Tanzanian village, just as they did in Elizabeti's Doll (1998) and Mama Elizabeti (2000, both Lee & Low).
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Check out the other books in this series:
Elizabeti's Doll and Mama Elizabeti