This series is about the children in Ms. Rooney’s second grade class, their friendships, rivalries, school issues, and special occasions. Most of the stories center around two children in particular, Emily Arrow and Richard “Beast” Best. Both Emily and Richard are average kids, somewhat imperfect, but likable. Both of them are in a remedial reading course, and Richard was held back a year in school because of his poor reading skills, something that he feels very self-conscious about. They make mistakes and sometimes have fights with their friends, but they care about other people and find ways to make things work out in the end.
There is a related series of mystery stories that focuses on another classmate, Dawn Boscoe, who likes to solve mysteries as the Polka Dot Private Eye.
Here are the books in the series:
How will Richard Best (called “Beast” by the other kids), deal with being held back a grade?
#2 Fish Face
A new girl joins Ms. Rooney’s class. At first, Emily hopes that they will be friends, but then she discovers that her new friend may be a thief!
Richard badly wants to win the candy corn contest that Ms. Rooney creates for Thanksgiving, but when he does something that changes the contest, will he find the courage to admit it?
A sort of “Secret Santa” style project among the kids in Ms. Rooney’s class teaches Emily to be a more thoughtful person. She also learns some surprising things about about some of her classmates.
#5 In the Dinosaur’s Paw
Ever since a mysterious ruler appeared in Richard’s desk, it seems like everything that he wishes comes true. Then, he makes a wish that he wants to take back.
Emily wants to give a special valentine to the class’s student teacher, but her Valentine’s Day may be ruined when she angers another classmate, who then starts plotting revenge.
#7 Lazy Lions, Lucky Lambs
Richard is worried about the latest school assignment because they have to write about a person and he isn’t very good at writing.
#8 Snaggle Doodles
The kids in Ms. Rooney’s class are working on group projects, trying to come up with inventions. But, Emily’s group can’t seem to work together to come up with good ideas. Can they work things out before their student teacher’s wedding?
#9 Purple Climbing Days
Richard is afraid of heights and dreads having to climb the rope in the gym. When the class’s mean substitute teacher finds out about his fear, what will she do?
#10 Say “Cheese”
Emily is worried because she doesn’t have a best friend, like everyone else. Then, she accidentally gets lost on a class picnic. Will anyone even notice that she’s missing?
#11 Sunny-Side Up
Richard and Matthew end up having to go to summer school. Then, Matthew finds out that his family is going to move to a new state! Can Richard face the loss of his best friend?
#12 Pickle Puss
Emily and Dawn compete to see who can read the most books. The winner of their contest gets to keep the stray cat they found.
#13 The Beast and the Halloween Horror
Richard wasn’t really paying attention when Ms. Rooney read The Halloween Horror to the class. He tried to fake knowing the story when everyone in class wrote to the author about the story, but he got things wrong. What will he do when the author comes to visit?
#14 Emily Arrow Promises To Do Better This Year
For her New Year’s resolution, Emily decides that she’s going to be better at absolutely everything! But, is that even possible?
#15 Monster Rabbit Runs Amuck
Richard and Matthew accidentally break the Monster Rabbit for the school’s spring assembly. Then, Richard also breaks his sister’s jewelry box. With everything going wrong, what’s going to happen for Richard’s birthday?
#16 Wake up, Emily, It’s Mother’s Day
Emily’s plans to give her mother a Mother’s Day present are going wrong! What is she going to do?