Suzy Makes a Friend
by Jennifer Groff
Gotham Books

"She really didn’t feel good about herself because she never did well on her tests. She did not like school because she struggled so much even though she studied."

Suzy, a second-grade student, is having trouble scoring well on tests, and this frustration results in her not liking school. Her parents and her teacher, Mrs. Gantz, know that Suzy studies for the tests, but she gets nervous when faced with the task, a sign of test anxiety.

One day, a visitor brings a dog named Sandy to the class. When it is time to test, Sandy is still in the class. Suzy’s teacher decides Sandy should stay with Suzy while taking her test. With the help of her furry friend, Suzy approaches the test with much less fear and more confidence, and she scores well. After talking with Suzy’s parents, Mrs. Gantz schedules Sandy to be available twice a week to interact with the class and be with Suzy as she takes tests. This is a great decision because Sandy’s visits not only help Suzy but also benefit the other students.

Groff’s book is a good introduction to test anxiety for early-grade readers. This audience should be able to identify with Suzy and grasp how having the dog in the classroom gives them something else to focus on other than their test anxiety. The story is a quick read and could be easily read by a teacher as an aid to begin a conversation on the topic. However, some additional editing would enhance the narrative’s effectiveness. Teachers may find Groff’s book useful in helping their students deal with test anxiety and as a tool to help educate caregivers who need more information on the topic.

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