Warning: do not read this book if in a state of PMS or are otherwise feeling emotionally sensitive, for whatever reason. It will make you smile, weep, chuckle, sob, and laugh out loud (making everyone around you wonder at your emotional instability). It will make you reminisce fondly about your own grade school days or fill you with hope for your own children that one day, they will have a teacher much like Phillip Done (we can only dream). “32 Third Graders and A Class Bunny,” is a publication that every parent with young children should own. And I am glad I do.
I don’t usually write reviews of any sort mainly because I simply don’t have the time. However, when I heard about this book from fellow SVMoms blogger, Jill, I had to check it out. And though this review is way overdue (with apologies to Mr. Done), I still wanted to write it as I believe that if you haven’t heard of it or read it yet, it’s the next book purchase you should make. Why is that?
Well, for one, it’s a quick read…that is, if you don’t read it like I do. I mean, as a mom of twin 5-year-olds and an entrepreneur in the middle of starting a new business, I rarely have a good chunk of time to sit down and relax with a good book. There are so many wonderful stories, anecdotes and quips in this book, that I often don’t return to the point I left off. I tend to go back a few pages…or a chapter…to familiarize myself with where I left off and smoothly move into the new unread section. Savor is the word that comes to mind.
As our twins are about to enter Kindergarten, I wonder at how much they have already picked up in the few years of daycare and preschool they have experienced. I am amazed at the little girls they have become – schooled in politeness, relatively peaceful conflict resolution (an ongoing process), creative projects, artists, music and free play. My thoughts about their future usually linger in the very near future or skip to when they’re teenagers. I don’t often reflect on their grade school years until I read other moms’ stories of their kids in grade school out of curiosity and the hope that I might pick up a good tip here and there to file away in my brain until needed.
But reading Mr. Done’s book brought me back to the earlier years – before the complexities of puberty, when innocence was still abundant in young kids’ minds. Third grade. I really think this is the last age of their being real children. According to another mommy friend of mine, her third grade daughter is doing long division, times tables and cursive writing. Their world of understanding is expanding through geography and current events. And with the many questions they have that are answered, they begin to lose that last bit of innocence – Santa Claus becomes only a legend, the Tooth Fairy ceases to leave presents under their pillows at night, the leprechauns no longer dance around the pot of gold at the end of the rainbows and the Halloween Fairy is discovered as a ruse that parents use to reduce the intake of sweets after an evening of amassing their collections.
But Phillip Done’s book made me laugh out loud at the antics of his third graders. At times, I think, “Wow, by the time my girls get to third grade, they’re going to seem so grown up.” And then I read about how his entire classroom of kids consistently erupts into laughter each year when Mr. Done says the word “ass” as he reads Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Yup, they’re still kids.
There’s so much to love about this book, it’s difficult to pull out a single story or anecdote to highlight. He brings us through a school year from the first day in fall to the last one before summer break. Mr. Done has amassed over 20 years of experiences to relate – which he does with just the right amount of humor, sensitivity and affection. His love for teaching, his sense of humor and practical approach to dealing with the varying personalities of students (and parents!) as the year marches on from September through June shines through. It’s a quick read and a wonderful trip back in time.
If you’re trying to come up with a different kind of gift for a parent of young kids or a special teacher, take a look at this book. You’ll be glad you did.
An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.
You may also find MommyTwinGirls at Silicon Valley Moms Blog telling tales of parenting in Silicon Valley, at Mad About Multipes recounting the ups and downs of raising twins and at Solheim Photography posting favorites from her latest photo shoots.