by Jerry Spinelli
This is a well written, easy to read, story about a typical or an "atypical" young man's plight from kindergarten through the first years of Middle School.
Donald Zinkoff begins his journey through school as his favorite teacher, Ms. Meeks, tells all the wide eyed kindergarteners about what they can look forward to. She begins by telling them that today is the first of the, "two thousand one hundred and sixty one days" of learning which are about to begin. She asks them to jump aboard the, "Learning Train". And Donald does just that.
By the title the reader quickly becomes aware that this train ride is not going to be a smooth one. Donald begins by wearing a giraffe hat to school, on the first day, while others make fun of him. His woes continue as he struggles with health issues, (he vomits all the time, as a result of a birth defect.)
His writing is atrocious and his grades are not the best. However he loves school and loves learning. He arrives at school early each day and never misses a day. Even on the "bring your kid to work day", he arranges to help his father deliver mail on Sunday to avoid an absence.
Donald's journey is not an easy one. The pitfalls that he encounters do not diminish his enthusiasm for school and learning.
This is a wonderful depiction of someone who, even though has had obstacles in his life, finds a way to remain positive.
Reviewed by Ms. Bannister