Allison's Book Bag

Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting by Barbara Esham

Posted on: October 12, 2012

It’s always nice when one can end on a positive note. Having now reached my fourth and final book in the Everyday Geniuses series by Barbara Esham, I’m happy to announce that in addition to Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets, I thoroughly enjoyed Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting. I liked both books because of their catchy titles, the delightful cartoon-style artwork, and the entertaining but educational story. Yay!

Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting is not about Stacey. She’s actually that annoying student that appears in every classroom. You know the one. Her schoolwork is always perfect. And she knows it. Which is why she asks, “If we finish extra early, can we play with Frederick AND work on the computer?” As for Frederick, he’s a guinea pig! Main character Carolyn has been “waiting since first grade to be a big kid and have the chance to play with him”. Too bad, by third grade, second grade isn’t going so well. You see, that’s about the time Carolyn’s teacher announced it was time for students to learn cursive. If that wasn’t bad enough news for a student who struggled with handwriting, Carolyn’s teacher also thought it might be a good idea to allowing (or rewarding) only those students who finished early to play with Frederick.

Ouch! Carolyn can ” color inside the lines of a picture and almost print my name inside the lines on notebook paper after a few tries, shoot a basket from where my big brother stands, and weave cones around my skateboard without knocking a single one over.” She just can’t write sentences in cursive without squeezing the letters too close together, smudging the paper, or creating holes. Even when she comes early or brings work her handwriting book home to practice.  About this time, Carolyn’s teacher decides to share Stacey’s perfect work to the class. If I were sitting there, I’d probably wish that Stacey would just stay home!

Esham perfectly portrays a grade-two classroom and a student who struggles with handwriting. Even as an adult, I completely relate to Carolyn’s frustration: “Does Mrs. Thompson know how hard I am working? Does she see how many erasers I’ve worn out? Does she see the big bump on the finger next to my thumb? Will I ever be able to write in cursive? Will I ever get to third grade? Will I ever get to Frederick?” That’s a lot of pressure! Fortunately, Carolyn’s teacher is able to recognize how hard Carolyn has worked and offers Caroyn encouragement along with a special prize for all her hard work.

Some online reviewers have cited their favorite books in the Everyday Geniuses series. My picks are Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets and Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting. In both of these books, the main characters struggle, fail, but persevere despite obstacles. Just as importantly, they figure out ways to deal with their obstacles. These are messages I can applaud!

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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