One Final Firecracker by Gregory Maguire.
Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company: NY, 2005.

It's a time for celebration - the students' graduation from grammar school, their beloved teacher's wedding, a traveling circus, and the Fourth of July. Odd creatures from the previous Hamlet Chronicles books make an appearance, set on becoming a part of the festivities.

This is the last book of a series set in a small Vermont town, focusing mainly on a class of students and their families and teacher. Wacky and humorous, a different set of creatures stars in each story, with them all coming together in One Final Firecracker. It reminds me of The Pure Dead series by Deb Gliori, though more heart-warming and toned down.

This is an excellent series for young readers, those who have recently started reading chapter books. I think, one of the best, because it is less formulaic than that reading level tends to be. The characters and story are enjoyable to follow. The language is rich, slowing down the flow, while the anticipation builds. A totally crazy scenario makes the town much more interesting than it would otherwise be - including to reporters snooping around.

I read this book before I knew it was a series. I have since read the first book and liked it as well. I still need to read the others to see what I missed. Just from reading the two, I can tell there is character development going on through the series, since the students and teacher are together through the whole series.

Also note, the students lead active lives, roaming all over town, much as I remember doing as a child. Unlike the average child nowadays, focused on electronics.

Seven Spiders Spinning is the first book in the series. I recommend that readers start with the first book.

related-schools, teachers, Fourth of July, Vermont, humorous stories

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