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From Pictures to Words - a guide to choosing books for beginner readers:
School Stories


How to Write Really Badly by Anne Fine
Published by Mammoth Books, 1996
ISBN 0-7497-2023-9
Illustrations © Philippe Dupasquier, 1996

How to Write Really Badly is another great read from Anne Fine with the usual characteristics of humour, a good storyline and the author’s amazing ability to write so appropriately for her readers.

When Chester Howard, an American boy, arrives in Miss Tate’s class he finds his jokes are wasted on his new classmates and he begins to wonder if Miss Tate is indeed another “dim-bulb” like the children she teaches in Walbottle Manor (Mixed).

If you dislike school, and teachers even more, and enjoy a good helping of sarcasm, then this is the book for you. Even on the first day the “sheer bloodcurdling niceness” of Chester’s classmates defeats him.

Howard, as he has mysteriously come to be known, discovers that Joe who sits next to him can’t write a single word properly but he can make a very impressive three-metre model of the Eiffel Tower from macaroni.

Inadvertently Chester involves himself in the education of Joe and when he’s asked by Miss Tate to begin his “How To” project, he chooses to provide a how-to manual for poor Joe to finish his school sentence at Walbottle Manor (Mixed).

Chester is completely bowled over when he wins the prize for Most Helpful Person in the class. Winning that prize in Walbottle Manor (Mixed) was, according to Chester, like winning an Olympic Gold. After all these kids were good and nice and kind!

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