Helen fears that lack of improvement in her reading may leave her stuck in the sixth grade forever, until a good teacher recognizes her reading problem.
Gr 5-8 Helen dreads the first day in sixth grade. Good in math and gifted on the pitcher's mound, she is a nonreader diagnosed as a behavior problem. Against the slice - of - life background of a skating party, pierced ears and overnights at friend Louise's, Helen loses the battle with the printed word. Mid-year, she transfers to the other sixth grade class, where the teacher lets her choose whether or not to study in the special ed classroom. Despite the label ``retard,'' she decides to get the special help. Hard work results in progress. Given her caring parents, sympathetic principal and wholesome friends, the motivation for Helen's pranks and booby traps is obscure. DeClements fails to relate Helen's deliquency to her frustration or anger. In addition, since help is just down the hall, it is unrealistic for Helen to suffer for half the year before trying the special ed room. Still, cameo appearances by Jenny and Elsie from Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade (Viking, 1981) will attract readers to this less successful problem novel. Like Gilson's Do Bananas Chew Gum ? (Lothrop, 1980), Sixth Grade. . . illuminates the bleak world of the learning disabled while it entertains. Pat Harrington, Phoenix Public Library