I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard book cover

Picture book, fiction
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 2.3
2 out of 5 stars

This is meant to be an uplifting story about a young girl getting recognized for her unique abilities. Unfortunately, most of the book is a really negative look at publicly shaming students in class and the depressing effect that has upon children.

Rose’s teacher rewards students who perform well in class by writing their name on the board and putting a star next to their name. Rose really wants to have her name on the board, but unfortunately she sometimes struggles with math and doesn’t read aloud well enough to please Mrs. Benson.

Rose breaks my heart. She really tries her best, and keeps raising her hand in hopes of earning a star, but she keeps falling short. At one point in the story, she gets a tummy ache because she is so worried about failing again.

The story ends with Rose’s artistic ability earning her a star on Mrs. Benson’s board, but at that point it feels like too little, too late. No child should be publicly shamed as Rose is, especially to the point where it affects her health. Whatever positive message the story’s ending is meant to convey is lost in the depression and health problems faced by Rose.

I would not recommend this book to young children as I feel it reinforces the idea that students who fit a normative standard of school behavior are rewarded and students who do not conform should work extra hard to “fit in.”

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard
Candlewick Press, 2015
ISBN 978-0-7636-6514-2

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