Zoe is the go-getter of the group. Her dad’s a lawyer and has always told her she could do anything. So she sets out to see if that’s true. She reinvents herself as an agent (after finding out what agents do), gives herself a pseudonym as well, declaring herself to be Zee Zee Reisman, of the Sherry Clutch Literary Agency (an agency she also invents and rents an office for), and goes to work making everything happen for Natalie.
Along the way, the girls become convinced they need to have an adult help them. They choose their young English teacher, Ms. Clayton, who is new to teaching and still unsure of exactly where her responsibilities lie in her chosen profession. One of Clements’s greatest skills as a middle-grade reader is his ability to write from the adult perspective in a way that doesn’t bore the younger readers or talk down to them.
The readers are elevated to the same level as the adult characters, and the adult problems are stripped of age, sex, and other modifiers that prohibit understanding by younger and less experienced readers. Ultimately in Clements’s view of the adult world, problems still confront characters who can affect them, but the question remains, should they? I agree with this philosophy, and it’s something that kids understand in a heartbeat.
The School Story is a great book about friendship between kids and between kids and adults. Everything fits together nicely in the end, which makes it more fictional than the real world, but the book delivered exactly what it set out to do.
At the end of reading it together, my son said that he believes the book should be turned into a movie because he could see everything happening. I tend to agree. But don’t wait for the movie. Read this splendid book while you’re waiting.