On the first day of school Arthur discovers he's got the toughest teacher in the Third Grade! Mr. Ratburn assigns so much homework, Arthur hardly has time to play or eat cookies. He studies so hard that he is chosen to represent his class in the all-school Spellathon.
The pressure in on and Arthur's whole family helps him practice. But can he beat last year's champion speller? Will he let Mr. Ratburn d-o-w-n?
Arthur may be facing his toughest challenge yet when he ends up with Mr. Ratburn for his third grade teacher. Rumors surround the man``Make one wrong move and he puts you on death row,'' and ``He's a vampire.'' All Arthur knows is that he has homework on the first day of school. His pesty sister, D. W., reminds Arthur that she won't have homework next year in kindergarten. The teacher announces a spelling test; the winners will go on to a school spellathon. Arthur works harder than he ever has, really pushing himselfand wins. Mr. Ratburn congratulates him and announces that next year he'll be teaching kindergarten. D. W. looks shocked when she gets that bit of news, having teased Arthur all week longit's a just, surprising comeuppance. The real-life lesson about teachers who expectand geta lot from their students is gently and winningly conveyed. (6-8)