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Review: It’s The First Day of School . . . Forever!

It’s The First Day of School . . . Forever! by R. L. Stine. Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. 2011. Review copy from publisher. Middle grade.

The Plot: Artie, eleven, is nervous about his first day of sixth grade at Ardmore Middle School. From the moment his alarm rings and he falls out of bed, everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Syrup in his hair, water splashed on the crotch of his pants, inadvertently getting the wrong people at school mad at him. As the day progresses, some of it is just weird, like the randomly numbered classrooms and having to get measured for books.

The next day begins, Artie’s alarm, goes off, he falls out of bed… “Again?” He thinks. Well, yes and no –he didn’t fall out of bed again, he fell out of bed the first time again. That horrible first day of school is on permanent repeat.

The Good: Every single thing a kid worries about happening on the first day of school happens to Artie, from locker mishaps to lunch missteps.

There are also some things kids don’t worry about. Like the possibility that their school is built on a graveyard. Or a principal that takes the side of the popular kids and makes threats that no adult should make to kids.

Poor Artie. He just wants to make a good impression, because not only is it the first day of school, it’s the first day at a new school. As the days repeat, he keeps trying to do it better: don’t stand near the puddle, don’t throw the ball at the back of the cool kid’s head. Avoiding one thing just brings about something worse. He hardly has any time to figure out what is going on.

I don’t want to give away the ending — but it’s delicious. Everything that didn’t make sense, that seemed scattered, falls into place, with an answer that is both satisfying and scary.

The kids who have been reading and rereading the tattered copies of Goosebumps will be pleased with this latest tale; and those who are being introduced to Stine for the first time are going to be asking for those older titles.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Sounds great . . . but can it really be reviewed without referring to the movie GROUNDHOG DAY?

  2. MR, I did think about mentioning the movie, but I thought, “OK, let’s see if I can do it without saying it.” That, and since the kids reading this book wouldn’t know that movie (though there teachers and parents might.)

  3. sylvia mcadam says:

    Okay I read it and so did my 17 boy who reads seldom but did love the Goosebump series as a young teen.
    Neither of us found the ending satisfying. Matthew, because he wanted some “kick butt” (although he used another word….) from Artie once he discovered what was really happening and me because I just felt like the cycle was going to start again.
    But then we started talking about the original G.B. and how most of them really did not have an ending, per se, and he was okay about that.
    Later, I read his paper on Look Homeward Angel (his summer reading book, YUCK!) for grammar and spelling corrections and realized that he had internalized the whole conversation and used it for his conclusions about the ‘real’ book he had read this summer. Well, okay, he read some of it, mostly from Spark Notes, I am afraid.
    I guess since my life seldom has a ‘conclusion’, I really want it in my fiction.
    Thanks for a chance to peer into my 17’s mind.

  4. sylvia, my 11 year old niece enjoyed the twist at the end, she was very much “wait, what was that? that’s weird” but liked it. In terms of the ending, it reminded me also of Twilight Zone & similar shows in that it’s not always what the reader/watcher expects.