Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School
An acclaimed author and a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator team up to bring us a funny, warm, and utterly winning chapter book that follows, day by day, the first hundred days in one first grader's classroom.
In just one hundred days, Harry will learn how to overcome first-day jitters, what a "family circle" is, why guinea pigs aren't scary after all, what a silent "e" is about, how to count to 100 in tons of different ways, and much more. He'll make great friends, celebrate lots of holidays, and learn how to use his words. In other words, he will become an expert first grader.
Made up of one hundred short chapters and accompanied by tons of energetic illustrations from bestselling illustrator of The Good Egg and The Bad Seed, this is a chapter book all first graders will relate to--one that captures all the joys and sorrows of the first hundred days of school.
"Funny, original, and completely captivating." --R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder
An Excerpt fromHarry Versus the First 100 Days of School
Don’t Leave Me
DAY 1. Wednesday, September 5
Harry has been to day care before. He went to kindergarten, too, but that was in the trailers on the other side of the play yard. First-grade classrooms are in the big-kid school.
The Graham School is four blocks from home. Harry walks with his sister, Charlotte. Mommy is a little ways behind. “If you need me,” says Charlotte, “I’ll be upstairs in fourth grade, room three-oh-three. Plus we have lunch and recess at the same time, so you’ll see me then. Got it?”
Harry nods. The weather still feels like summer. The trees on their street are bright green. Charlotte wears red shorts and a new T-shirt with sequins, plus her favorite running shoes. She has two braids in her hair. Harry is wearing his green sneakers, blue shorts, and his favorite shirt with four horses.
“Will there be guinea pigs at school?” he asks.
“Don’t worry about guinea pigs, H. Really.”
“What if kids are mean?”
“Some people are mean, yeah,” says Charlotte. “But boo on them. Just don’t hang out with them.”
Harry stops walking. “Will the teachers yell?”
“The music teacher yells. But I still like her. She plays the accordion.”
Yelling? No way. Harry turns and starts to run back home. He zooms past Mommy, down the block. He climbs the steps to his apartment building and plasters his body against the front door. “I’m not going to school!”
His mom follows. “H, what’s wrong?”
“There are mean kids and yelling teachers! Charlotte said so!”
“Did not,” says Charlotte, catching up. “I was just being realistic.”
“I’m not going!”
His mother pats his back. “H,” she says, bending over. “What are you scared of?”
Harry wants to say, “I might not make friends! What if someone picks on me? What if I get in trouble? What if I’m the only one who can’t read yet?” He wants to say all that, but it won’t come out. Instead, he says, “You can’t make me go!”
Mommy holds out her hand. “School is fun,” she says kindly. “You’ll make so many friends, and you’ll learn like, one hundred things every day.”
“How about we look in your lunch bag,” she says. “See? I packed your favorites.”
She holds it open and Harry peeks in. Cucumber, cantaloupe, pork dumplings, and strawberry yogurt in a squeezy tube. At the bottom of the bag are two square butter cookies wrapped in wax paper.
Those are his favorites. Especially the cookies. Harry doesn’t usually get dessert at lunchtime. “That’s a good lunch in there,” he admits.
Mommy holds out her hand again. It is her nice Mommy hand, with shiny blue fingernails she paints herself.
Harry sniffs back his tears and grabs on.
“I think you are ready,” Mommy says. “I really, truly do.”
He lets her walk him to school.
They all three climb the steps that lead to a fat brick building with a spiky black fence. Mommy has to say goodbye at the door.
Harry hugs her. Then he takes a deep breath and he does it.
With Charlotte right beside him, Harry Bergen-Murphy goes to school.
DAY 2. Thursday, September 6
School was all right yesterday.
The first-grade classroom is full of markers and pattern blocks. There is not a single guinea pig anywhere. Ms. Peek-Schnitzel, the teacher, has a bright voice and a face like an apple, shiny and pink. She is old and wears makeup on her eyebrows. She said hello to the kids as they entered and assigned each one a seat at a table. The tables are labeled with animal names: Goat, Sheep, Rabbit, Cow, and Horse.
Harry is at Goat Table. It has a laminated picture of a goat on it.
Some sections of the classroom wall are covered with corkboard. And others with whiteboard. Plus there is a SMART Board near the teacher’s special chair. Lots of boards! In one corner is a reading area with a shaggy carpet and bins full of picture books. In another is a large rug with colored squares. Each student gets a square to sit on during morning meeting. Harry’s spot is on a green square. And green is his favorite color!
Ms. Yoo, the art teacher, visited after lunch. She is a round person with streaks of pink in her hair and lots of rings on her fingers. She handed out watercolor paints and invited all the kids to make self-portraits.
Harry already knew kids from kindergarten: Mason and Mia, Adam and Abigail. Harry likes Mason a whole lot. His ears stick out almost as much as Harry’s. He was wearing a shirt with a pineapple on it. The two of them played at recess. The big-kid yard doesn’t have grass like the kindergarten yard, but it does have climbing structures and rubber matting. Mason and Harry went to the top of the tall structure everyone calls the Rocket.
Some things were still hard. When they played a Name Game, using their fingers, Harry messed up when it was his turn.
Harry Harry Harry
He forgot the second Whoops! and felt his face heat up. Then he looked at the carpet for the rest of the game.
Now he and Charlotte walk upstairs for the second day of school. “Bye,” says Charlotte, outside his classroom. “Have a good day, H.”
Ms. Peek-Schnitzel’s door is covered with bright paper polka dots. Each dot has a kid’s name on it: Harry, Mason, and twenty-three others. There are twenty-five kids in all.
Suddenly, they seem like stranger polka dots.
“Don’t leave me!” cries Harry. He starts to cry. He can’t help it.
“You have to be a big Harry when you’re in first grade,” says Charlotte.
“Don’t leave me with the polka dots!” cries Harry.
Charlotte gives him a hug. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she says into his ear. “I can’t be late, ’kay? Bye!” She pulls away and heads upstairs.
“You’re a guinea pig!” Harry yells.
Ms. Peek-Schnitzel leans into the hall. “Harry, my friend, is that you?” she says.
“Do you know how to work an electric pencil sharpener?”
“Then I would really love your help.”
Harry follows the teacher into the classroom. The sharpener is on her desk, next to a big jar of pencils.
As Harry sharpens, kids come into the room and put away their backpacks. Some of them look at books on the shaggy rug. Others use pattern blocks or draw with markers. Two kids play a matching game that the teacher set out on a table.
Everyone looks busy and happy, but Harry feels busier than all of them. He is the special person who gets to do the pencils.
DAY 3. Friday, September 7
“Don’t leave me!” cries Harry, again, when Charlotte says goodbye.
“Oh, please,” she says. “Are you going to do this every day?”
“Yes.” He grabs Charlotte and wraps his legs around her like a monkey. He won’t let her go. She will stay in the classroom all day with him. That’ll be good. He’ll just sit on her lap.
“I have toy horses in my pocket,” says a voice. “Want to see?”
It is Mason.
“Hi,” mumbles Harry.
Mason makes one of the horses say “Hi” back. It is blue plastic with a hairy red mane. “His name is Ice Cream McGee.”
That makes Harry smile. “Ice Cream McGee is a great name for a horse.” Slowly he lets go of Charlotte. “Can I see?” he asks.
Mason hands Ice Cream McGee to Harry. “You can play with him if you want.”
Harry nods. They go into the classroom together.
At morning meeting, Ms. Peek-Schnitzel asks the kids what they hope to learn in first grade. She writes down their answers. Lots of kids put their hands up right away, but Harry needs to think.
“I want to do handwriting,” says Diamond. “ ’Cause I’m already good at drawing.”
“I want to learn science about animals,” says Mason.
“I want to be a better artist,” says Kimani.
“I want to learn to tell a joke,” says Wyatt.
“I want to make friends,” says Abigail.
More kids raise their hands. Some want to tell time. Some want to write a story or learn to use a computer.
Ms. Peek-Schnitzel writes everything down. Harry is the last kid.
“Do you know what you want to learn in first grade?” the teacher asks him.
Harry has been thinking while the other kids answered. “How to be an expert,” he says.
“An expert? What do you mean?”
“I want to know all about one thing so I can explain it to people. My mom is a nursing expert. My dad is a website expert. And my sister Charlotte is an expert at Crazy Eights.”
“We are beginners in a lot of subjects in first grade,” the teacher tells Harry. “But I bet you can become an expert on something by the time we’re through. It’ll take some work, though. Are you up for trying hard?”
Harry nods. He is up for it.
DAY 4. Wednesday, September 12
Everyone had a long weekend because of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. Harry ate challah bread and apples with honey, and he talked to his baba on the phone to say Shana Tova, which means “Happy New Year” in Hebrew. But mostly, he played his Fluff Monsters video game and did Lego; plus he helped Mommy clean. Harry got to use the vacuum and squirt the spray cleaner. Then he jumped on his bed.
Today, when Harry and Charlotte arrive at the classroom, Mason and his dad are in the hallway. “I wanted to wear my hedgehog shirt!” cries Mason. “I hate this shirt. The color looks like boogers.”
“I think it’s a nice shade of gray,” says Mason’s dad. “And look, it has a rhino on it. You look handsome, buddy. The hedgehog shirt wasn’t clean.” He gives Mason a hug and turns to go.
“Don’t leave me!” says Mason. “My socks itch!”
Harry remembers how Mason helped him on Friday. “I know how to draw a Fluff Monster,” Harry says, coming closer. “Want me to show you?”
Mason sniffs. He wipes his eyes. “Yes, please.”
They go into the classroom together. They get markers and draw the fattest, purplest Fluff Monsters ever. They fill up six whole pieces of paper before it’s even time for morning meeting.
DAY 5. Thursday, September 13
Harry knows the name of every kid who sits at Goat Table: Mason, his friend who is funny. Wyatt, a boy with a loud voice. Abigail from kindergarten, who looks down at her hands a lot. Kimani, a girl who prints very neatly. And Diamond, a girl with a big laugh.
When it’s time for math, Ms. Peek-Schnitzel makes an announcement: “This fall, we are going to study the number one hundred. By the time we’re done, we’ll all know this number so well, it will feel like a good friend. I promise.”
She shows them how to write “100” on their papers. Then they count up to it together. Each kid says a number.
Harry is number five. And number thirty. And fifty-five. And eighty.
It takes four go-rounds to get to one hundred. The teacher helps them if they’re not sure what number comes next.
The kid who has the last number is Wyatt. “Number one hundred, woo-hoo!” he cries.
“I don’t get why it’s such a big whup,” Harry whispers to Mason.
“Harry, my friend,” says the teacher, “please don’t whisper. I am explaining about counting by tens.”
“But Wyatt was going woo-hoo,” says Harry.
“I get to go woo-hoo,” says Wyatt, “ ’cause I’m number one hundred.”
Harry makes a silly face at Mason.
Mason makes a silly face at Harry.
And Ms. Peek-Schnitzel doesn’t notice, because silly faces don’t make a single sound.
DAY 6. Friday, September 14
At the center of Goat Table is a plastic box of bead wires. Each wire has ten orange beads on it. The kids use them for counting.
Harry counts to ten, five times.
Then he tries counting backward.
Then he makes a square with four bead wires. And a triangle with three.
He pretends his bead wire is a sword. Ooh, that’s more fun.
He stabs Mason, just a little bitty stab.
Mason grins and stabs back.
Sword fight! Slash, cut, cut, poke!
Ms. Peek-Schnitzel comes over. She coughs on purpose. “Mr. Harry, Mr. Mason. Bead wires are not for battles.”
That makes Harry and Mason laugh, even though the teacher is serious.
“Friends?” says Ms. Peek-Schnitzel. “I’m going to try changing our seating a bit. Okay?” She is nice about it, but she makes Harry trade seats with Amira. Now Harry sits at Rabbit Table. “I think we’ll all learn better this way,” she says.
For the rest of the day, Harry does not see the tiny horses Mason keeps in his pocket. Or the big smile Diamond always has on her face. He does not hear the sniffy noises Abigail makes during silent reading or the drumming Wyatt does when he is thinking.
He misses Goat Table.
Ms. Peek-Schnitzel is a big mean guinea pig, Harry thinks. She is not a nice teacher at all.
DAY 7. Monday, September 17
Over the weekend, Harry played with Mason. He even met Mason’s dog, Pebble. Pebble is a Yorkipoo. She is very small and hairy. Mason has a big bin of Legos and a whole collection of Lego people; plus his dad made grilled cheese. The whole afternoon was awesome, and now Harry and Mason are best friends.
“Can I go back to Goat Table?” Harry asks the teacher right after morning meeting.
“Aren’t you happy at Rabbit?” says Ms. Peek-Schnitzel. “I think that might be a good place for you to do your best learning.”
“Goat Table, please and thank you.”
“Hmm.” The teacher looks thoughtful. “How about you do really good listening all day today? If everything goes well, I’ll move you back to Goat.”
Harry says okay, but he is frustrated. He asked super nicely and she didn’t say yes. She is such a strict teacher!
He doesn’t talk to anyone at Rabbit Table.
During math, he counts his bead wires quietly and thinks mean things about rabbits. How they’re so hoppity and only eat vegetables. Goats are much better.
He doesn’t put his hand up for help during reading, even though he is stuck on a bunch of hard words. He knows you’re supposed to look at the pictures to help you, but the book just shows a girl and a blob in a bowl. The blob might be pudding, or cake batter, or soup, or even a magic potion. It’s a mystery. Also, he can’t figure out silent E.
Harry plays at recess, but he mopes all through story time, social studies, and even music and writing. He hopes Ms. Peek-Schnitzel will notice how miserable he is. Then she’ll feel sorry for scolding him on Friday.