Book Review of #1 Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements

Name of Book: Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade

Author: Barthe DeClements

ISBN: 0-14-034443-8

Publisher: Puffin Books

Type of book: kid to young adult, fifth grade, overweight,  friendship, growing up, working mothers, 1980s

Year it was published: 1981


Your teacher is too strict, fractions are too hard, nd the most disgusting girl in school has the seat next to yours...Nothing's fair!

Jenny knows one thing fore sure-Elsie Edwards is fat thief who steals people's lunch money to buy candy. So when the book club money disappears, why is the whole class punished? Nothing's fair!

But soon Jenny realizes some things aren't fair for Elsie, either. Elsie is on a strict diet, but when she starts losing weight, her mother wont' buy her new clothes. Instead, she plans to send Elsie to boarding school. Suddenly everyone wants to help Elsie. Nothing's fair in fifth grade-but sometimes things get better!


The characters strike me as being well written and realistic and believable. It's believable that Elsie has a tough exterior due to her upraising, and that the more time the girls spent together, they start seeing her as a person rather than someone who's fat. I do kind of wish that I'd understand Elsie's mother's motivations and why she treats Elsie the way she does.


Even if the person is unappealing physically, try to look beyond that and see them underneath.


This is in first person narrative from Jenny's point of view. The book is easy to read and wraps up the story nicely so to speak, although some questions will remain after finishing it. I secretly do wish the book could have been made longer though.

Author Information:

Barthe DeClements is a school counselor who has worked as a psychologist and teacher.

While teaching 5th grade, she sought new ways to make spelling and composition interesting. So she began to create a story by writing one paragraph on the blackboard each week. Ms. DeClements says the students became so involved that one child expected the fictional Elsie to join their class! Then, during summer vacation, Ms. DeClements shaped those paragraphs into Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade, her first book.

Barthe DeClements says that space and solitude enable her to write. She now lives in a log house, built by the youngest of her four children, near Pilchuck River in Snohomish, Washington.


I read this book even when I was a kid and still enjoyed it a great deal. It gives a nice lesson of not judging people by the cover. Unfortunately, even today people judge others by weight ironically, and very often they are not seen as human beings. The book is short with few chapters and is easy to read. In someways it is easy to relate to it, but it will seem outdated, especially with working mothers theme. However, the friendship theme will never be outdated. Also this book gives an interesting view of different types of families, such as Elsie's divorced mother and younger brother, and one of Jenny's friends' mothers is widowed.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


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