Review: Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke
Mr. Wolf’s Class
By Aron Nels Steinke
Teaching (and school librarianship) is one of the lucky rare professions where every year there is a sense of renewal. New year, fresh start. There is no fresher start than being a first time teacher, or new student. They say write what you know, and 5th grade teacher Aron Nels Steinke has created a graphic novel about a 4th grade classroom that quickly feels like an old friend.
Mr. Wolf has a lot of work to do. It’s his first year teaching 4th grade at Hazelwood Elementary and he’s starting from scratch. Classroom setup, student culture – it’s his first go-round at all of it. It’s a new year for his assorted animal students too, of course. For rabbit Margot, it’s the first day at a brand new school. The day is full of incident, as personalities clash and mesh, and one student turns up missing.
This book captures the first day of school excitement and anxiety in a way that only an insider would know. When I learned Steinke is a teacher by day, it all made sense. Empathy is shown for both sides of the teacher/student coin. The lack of a “villain” makes the whole endeavor more authentic, as characters test the first day of school waters.
The comics style artwork is concise, the panel work is clear. The palette is soft yet always keeps visual interest high with always-changing background hues.
This is the first book in a planned series, and like all good school stories, readers will find Mr. Wolf’s class to be a sturdy mirror, reflecting their experience.
Review copy from the publisher.
Watch the trailer for Mr. Wolf’s Class:
Watch Aron Nels Steinke talk about the book:
Filed under: Reviews
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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