WHEN D.W. WENT TO KINDERGARTEN

By WileE2005

DISCLAIMER: Arthur and all related characters are the creation of Marc Brown. This is simply a work of fan-fiction…

It was the last week of summer in Elwood City. A Thursday morning was starting off normal in the house of the Read family, but 9-year-old Arthur Read had just woken up from a nightmare…

In his dream, Arthur felt he had wasted the entire summer not doing anything (he was still trying to find his list of things to do during the summer), and so he was going to flunk summer. But the scariest part of his dream was that his sister D.W. was now at the same school as him!

But Arthur knew that even though you can't flunk summer, D.W. would still be going to school with her. She was to start kindergarten at Lakewood Elementary, just as Arthur had when he was D.W.'s age.

However, D.W. was having doubts about kindergarten as the first day of school got closer and closer. She wondered if she would have to do a large amount of work, because she remembered Arthur often complaining about getting tons of homework from Mr. Ratburn the previous year. D.W. already somewhat knew her way around the school building, from when she attended Arthur's spelling bee, the various concerts and recitals Arthur was in, and a few other events. But this was the first time she was actually going to have a class there. And when she learned that her kindergarten teacher would actually be Mr. Ratburn's sister Ms. Ratburn, she was even more nervous.

The Tibble Twins also couldn't resist fueling her fear. "It's no longer fun and games," Tommy Tibble told her. "It's all work, work, work!"

"You'll have to carry thousand-page books to and from school every day," Timmy added. "And you'd better be able to read, write and do math by the end of the year, or… or…"

"You can never go back home again!" Tommy said. He and Timmy Tibble did their distinctive cackle.

"But how do you two know?" D.W. asked. "You two have never been to kindergarten, either!"

"Uhh… err…" the Tibbles stalled. But then Timmy said, "Arthur told us!" They both laughed again.

Later, D.W. questioned Arthur about it.

"Oh, come on," said Arthur. "I didn't say ANYTHING like that to the Tibbles."

"But you've been to kindergarten," D.W. replied. "So you know what it's like!"

"Well, it's NOT like what the Tibble twins must have told you," Arthur said. "Kindergarten will be sort of similar to preschool. Come on, let's go to the library. I have something that may be of assistance to you. And bring your library card."

After returning from the library, Mrs. Read sat with Arthur and D.W. in the living room with the book they had just checked out: "When You Go To Kindergarten," by James Howe. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is an actual book I found at my local library. However, this is of a more dated copy from 1986, instead of the current revised version out now.)

"Mom checked out this book when I started going to kindergarten," Arthur told D.W. "And now I think you should hear it, too."

Mrs. Read started reading the book. " 'Starting kindergarten is an exciting part of growing up. You will be going to a new place, making new friends, having fun and learning – all at the same time! If you've been to nursery school or day care, you know what it's like to spend time away from home."

"What's 'nursery school?''" D.W. asked.

"It's another word for preschool," Arthur explained.

"Oh." D.W. let her mom continue…

" 'But kindergarten isn't the same as nursery school or day care. This book will tell you about kindergarten – and what it's like to go there. How will you get to school? If you live nearby, you might walk. A grownup you know well, such as your mother or father, an older brother or sister, or a baby sitter, will walk with you. And crossing or safety patrol guards will be at all street corners to help you safely across.'"

"I'm probably going to walk to school with Arthur, right?" D.W. asked.

"Yes, dear," Mrs. Read said. "And I will accompany you on the first week. Though on winter or rainy days, I will drive you and Arthur to school."

Arthur said, "Don't worry mom, I actually don't mind taking D.W. to and from school every day. After all, I remember us riding together with you on those winter days."

" 'Your going to school is something for you and your parents to feel good about, even though it may be hard to say good-bye at first. Your teacher will be at the school to meet you when you come to kindergarten the first day and every day.'"

"I already know the teacher," D.W. said nervously. "Ms. Ratburn!"

"I talked with Ms. Ratburn," Mrs. Read reassured her. "And her kindergarten teaching techniques will not be like her brother teaching Arthur's third-grade class." She continued reading. " 'Your school may be a very big place with long halls. Some schools have stairs. Some have many classrooms and special rooms such as a library, a gymnasium, and an auditorium. Most schools have a principal's office and a nurse's office.'"

"I already know that," said D.W. "I've seen the school before."

Mrs. Read continued reading, "If you should get lost, there are many adults – teachers and custodians, for instance – who can help you find your way back to your classroom. Most of your time in kindergarten will be spent in your classroom."

"It will be sort of like your preschool classroom," Arthur added.

"On the first day," Mrs. Read continued, "you'll meet the other children who will be in your kindergarten class with you. They're all starting out – just like you. Name tags will help everyone learn each other's name."

"I already know Emily, the Tibbles, Bud and James will be in the same class with me," D.W. said.

A little later, Mrs. Read continued, "Then you might stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Everyone will say the pledge together. The teacher will help those children who don't know all the words."

"I think I know it," D.W. said, standing up and putting her right hand on her front. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under dog, invisible, with liberty and just this for all."

Arthur chuckled a little. "You sounded just like when I first tried to say the Pledge of Allegiance! It took a week for me to get the words correctly, and it should for you too."

Mrs. Read continued reading. She then got to, "And there will be books with pictures that you can look at by yourself. Some children do not know how to read when they are in kindergarten. Other children do know how. This doesn't mean that they are better or smarter. It just means that they are ready to read sooner. Everybody reads when he or she is ready."

"I can read a bit," D.W. said. "I could even read the word 'Kindergarten' on the cover of the book!"

"Well by the end of the year, you will probably be able to read more fluently," Mrs. Read said. She then resumed, "You'll learn about colors and shapes and sizes, and animals and plants. You'll sing songs, paint pictures and make things. You'll build with blocks and play make-believe."

"That still sounds a lot like preschool," D.W. said suspiciously.

"It will be a little more grown-up than what you did in preschool," Arthur reassured her.

"Sometimes you'll go outside to learn," Mrs. Read continued reading, "and sometimes to play."

"In elementary school," Arthur added, "going outside to play is called 'recess.' We get a half-hour of it every day, unless it is raining or snowy out. Your class will have something prepared for those days."

Mrs. Read then got to, "You will have something to eat – a snack or lunch – every day at school."

"That doesn't surprise me," D.W. said. "I know they have lunch there, because Arthur told me about it."

"We will probably not see each other during lunch," Arthur said. "The lower grades eat separately from the upper grades. The kindergarten kids get a whole portion of the cafetorium to themselves."

"Isn't that the big room at the school with the stage?" D.W. asked.

"Yes, and we also eat lunch in there," Arthur explained. "But for snack time, you will eat in the classroom."

Mrs. Read continued. "One important thing that happens in school a few times every year is a fire drill. A fire drill is a way of practicing what to do and where to go in case there is a fire in your school building."

"Oh, I already know about fire drills," D.W. said, "and I remember when Arthur told me when the school had a fire one time, but no one even got burned!"

"That is why we have fire drills," Mrs. Read said. Then she continued, "You will hear a loud bell ringing. Then your teacher will tell you to line up with no talking and follow him or her outside. It might be a little scary the first time you hear the bell ring, but it's a good idea to know what the sound means and what to do when you hear it in case there's ever a real fire."

"But the alarm at preschool wasn't a bell," D.W. said. "It made a buzzing sound. Is that what it sounds like at your school, Arthur?"

"It used to buzz like that, until after the fire," Arthur said. "They redid the school's fire alarm system when they fixed it up after the fire, and now it makes a noise similar to our smoke alarms, but with blinking strobe lights as well."

"I do know your school has a bell that rings when the day is over," D.W. said. "Is that right?"

"Yes," Arthur said, "but it's for more than that. It also lets you know when the school day begins, and when recess and lunch start and end, as well as a few other certain 'periods.' You will learn more about that on the first day."

"I wonder if Ms. Ratburn will make me the assistant fire drill helper, like Ms. Morgan did with me in preschool?" D.W. asked.

"We'll see," Mrs. Read said. She then continued, "Some days will be special. You may go to another room for gym class. Or you may visit the music room or the library."

"I know the school has a gym," D.W. added. "But I didn't know it has a music room and a library too!"

"Of course," Arthur added. "The music room is also where my class has band practice, and the library is also a good one, though it's not as big or full-featured as the real public library. There is also an art classroom as well, and a wood-shop class."

"You may even go on a trip outside the school," Mrs. Read continued reading.

"That I know too," D.W. said. "Arthur told me about the field trips he's been on during his time at that school, including to that dinosaur park, the zoo, the med-evil fair, the science museum, a cave, and Wonder World near the end of the year!"

"If it's a holiday or someone's birthday," Mrs. Read resumed, "your class may even have a party! All of the things you do in kindergarten and all of the special times throughout the year will be shared with the other children in your class. When you first come to school, you may not know anyone, and you may feel worried about this. But soon you'll be playing and talking and laughing with the boys and girls in your class. And many of them will become your friends."

D.W. felt more relaxed by now. Kindergarten wasn't looking so bad anymore after all…

Eventually, the first day of school arrived. D.W. was the first one up, five minutes before 7:00 AM. She jumped out of her bed, ran to Arthur's room, and opened the door.

"Wake up, Arthur!" D.W. shouted excitedly. "It's the first day of school! We have to get ready!"

Arthur groaned as he put his eyeglasses on. "D.W., it's almost seven o'clock. School doesn't start until nine!"

"Give me a break," D.W. said. "I can't tell time!"

Mrs. Read walked up behind D.W. "I'm glad you're both up," she told them. "We do have to get ready for your first day at school."

Arthur got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. This time, D.W. was also already dressed for eating breakfast as well. She had on her nice clothes, including her yellow skirt with red spots. She told Arthur, "I suppose I could get used to this," and then went back to eating her cereal.

It was nearly 8:30 AM now. Arthur got his backpack, which he loaded with school supplies the night before. D.W.'s backpack was also similarly prepared, with school supplies she picked out while shopping with their mother.

D.W. felt excited and a little nervous about finally starting elementary school. Arthur was also a little nervous, due to his little sister going to the same school as him. Though starting fourth grade wouldn't be as hard, as he already knew Mr. Ratburn would be teaching his class again, having moved up a grade. And Arthur's friends would be in the same class as him.

Mrs. Read asked Arthur and D.W., "Ready to go?"

Arthur and D.W. both said in unison, "Yes."

The three of them began walking to Lakewood Elementary. As they did, Arthur glanced at D.W. and began imagining something…

Arthur was taking a test with his classmates in Mr. Ratburn's class, but then the door swung open and D.W. entered.

"Arthur!" D.W. said. "The other kids won't play 'Confuse the Goose' with me. Will you play?"

Arthur's friends began to laugh.

"D.W.," Arthur hissed, "I'm taking a math test!"

D.W. wasn't fazed. "Who cares about math? Playing is more important."

Mr. Ratburn gasped loudly, and nearly fainted.

Muffy ran over to the teacher. "Mr. Ratburn, are you all right?"

Mr. Ratburn got up. "I'm fine, Miss Crosswire. But as for D.W., she's going to have to join our class, so she can see that math is certainly more important than whatever she's doing in kindergarten!"

Arthur and his friends all gasped in horror.

"D.W., take your seat at the empty desk next to Arthur," Mr. Ratburn ordered.

D.W. jumped up into the chair next to Arthur and smiled. "Hooray! We get to be classmates!"

"Oh no!" Arthur moaned, burying his head in his hands…

Arthur then snapped out of his fantasy when Buster greeted him and his mother and sister.

"Hey, Arthur," Buster said. "Let's walk to school together!"

"Uh… sure," Arthur said, not entirely sure about it.

As they walked, Buster asked Arthur, "Why is D.W. with you?"

"Don't you remember?" Arthur told him. "D.W.'s starting kindergarten at our school this year."

"Oh, right," Buster said. "Well, at least she's not going to be in the same class as us!"

Arthur gave a thoughtful look, hoping that she'd stay with her kindergarten class.

"Hi, Buster," D.W. waved. "I'm starting the big kids' school today!"

Buster chuckled.

A short while later, the four of them arrived outside the front entrance of Lakewood Elementary School. Arthur and D.W. already saw many of their friends there. Francine, "The Brain," Binky, George, Sue Ellen, Fern and Jenna were hanging out together and talking. Muffy Crosswire was coming out of her limousine and then saying goodbye to her chauffeur Bailey. Ladonna was with Bud, hugging their mother. Emily, James, Kyle, Maryann and Amanda were there with at least one of their parents, and James's older sister Molly was accompanying him. Tommy and Timmy Tibble were also there with their grandmother, both looking very smug.

D.W. waved to her friends. "Hi Emily! Hi Tommy and Timmy! Hi Bud!"

Francine looked over at Arthur and walked up to him and Buster. "Let me guess. D.W. starts kindergarten this year, right?"

"Yes," Arthur said, hoping Francine would go easy on him.

Francine looked down at D.W. "Hey, D.W.," she greeted. "Welcome to Lakewood Elementary! Arthur and Buster and I will help you out if need be."

"We will?" Arthur and Buster asked in unison.

Mrs. Read looked down at the two boys. "I think that would be nice."

D.W. smiled. "Thanks, but I think I can manage this on my own so far."

"So, who's your kindergarten teacher?" Francine asked.

"Ms. Ratburn," D.W. said.

Francine and Buster gasped.

D.W. was now concerned. "What?" she asked.

Buster turned to Arthur and said, "I still can't forget the time she was our substitute teacher last year. What a day!"

"What was it like? What was it like?" D.W. asked urgently.

Arthur looked directly at D.W. and assured her, "It was all very easy stuff. Just stuff we already knew and got quickly bored at. It's the kind of stuff they teach you in kindergarten, and you're old enough to not be bored by it."

"It was fun at first," Francine added, "but like Arthur said, we were soon quite bored. It's because we're older than you and already know what they teach in kindergarten."

D.W. felt a little better among hearing that.

"Come on," Mrs. Read said, pulling her Smartphone out of her pocket. "Let me get a picture of you and Arthur in front of the school with your backpacks. This is such a big step forward for my little girl!"

D.W. and Arthur managed to smile for the photo. After which, Mrs. Read took D.W. to chat with her classmates, and that helped her feel more excited for kindergarten again, while Arthur hung out with his own friends.

"I can't believe I'm finally starting fourth grade!" Binky said, feeling very excited.

"The Brain" chuckled. "It's good to see you actually excited about the first day of school for a change," he said. "But I hope you do pretty well, so you don't get held back again."

"No sweat," Binky told him. "Being held back in third grade seems to have made me a new man."

"The Brain" just rolled his eyes at that.

Soon, the entry bell rang. "Time to go inside!" D.W. said. She turned to her mom and hugged her. "Good-bye, Mom. I'll see you this afternoon."

"I'll see you, too. Have a good day," Mrs. Read said.

Mrs. Tibble hugged her grandsons. "Now Timmy, Tommy, you two have a great first day of school, and stay out of trouble."

"We will," Tommy and Timmy said in unison, starting to walk toward the front entrance with proud grins on their faces.

After Bud hugged his mother goodbye, his sister Ladonna took his hand. "Come on, Bud," she said. "I'll walk you to your kindergarten class. I know where it is."

Arthur followed D.W. and said, "I think I'll walk you to your kindergarten class as well, just to be safe."

"Okay," D.W. said, and took Arthur's hand as they walked up the front steps.

Ms. Ratburn's kindergarten class was fairly close to the front entrance, so Arthur and Ladonna were able to easily drop off their younger siblings in the classroom before heading off to their fourth-grade classroom, where Mr. Ratburn would be teaching them. Molly was also there, dropping off her brother James before heading to her fifth-grade class.

Shortly after, all the kids in Ms. Ratburn's kindergarten class had arrived. Some were pretty nervous, while others felt a bit more confident, seeing some familiar faces. D.W. did notice a few kids she didn't recognize, but she figured she'd know them well by the end of the school year, or maybe even by the end of the month. D.W. went to hang out with Emily for a bit, and they both looked around the kindergarten classroom.

"Wow," Emily said. "In some ways, it's a bit different from our preschool class, and in other ways it's almost the same."

D.W. smiled. "Yes, Emily," she said. "We're finally in real school! That makes us big kids!"

Bud grinned. "Plus, I feel pretty good knowing that my older sister is in the same school as me."

"Same with my older brother," D.W. agreed, "and James's older sister as well."

The school bell rang, officially starting the day.

"Let's get to our desks," D.W. told Bud and Emily. "I think that bell means class is starting." So they did.

Then Ms. Ratburn stood up at her desk and clapped her hands to grab the kids' attention. "Good morning, class," she announced. "Welcome to kindergarten at Lakewood Elementary School! My name is Ms. Rodentia Ratburn."

Bud raised his hand. "Say, aren't you related to Mr. Ratburn? My older sister has him for her teacher."

"Why yes," Ms. Ratburn said. "He's my brother! Now, I'd like to get to know all of you. I will prepare name tags for you all to wear."

D.W. raised her hand and said, "My name is Dora Winifred Read, but I prefer to be called D.W."

Ms. Ratburn gasped in delight. "D.W.! My brother told me about you, and he's also teaching your older brother Arthur, while I teach you! Just like Bud Compson and his sister Ladonna! Isn't that wonderful?"

"Then that makes D.W. and Bud teacher's pets!" Timmy softly said to Tommy, and they both snickered.

D.W. and Bud both briefly turned red. But they weren't going to let a little setback like that ruin their school year.

Ms. Ratburn faced the Tibble twins. "I take it you two are Tommy and Timmy Tibble?"

Both Tibbles got a little nervous as they faced their new teacher. "Yes, ma'am."

Then Ms. Ratburn smiled, "I hope you two will not cause so much trouble. We're going to learn about some friendship and social skills this year!"

Emily raised her hand and asked, "Ms. Ratburn, what else are we going to learn in kindergarten?"

"And what's your name?" Ms. Ratburn asked her.

"Emily."

"Well, Emily," Ms. Ratburn said, "we will read stories, sing songs, learn our ABCs and numbers, paint pictures, make things out of clay and other arts and crafts, play games, learn about colors and shapes and sizes, learn a bit about plants and animals, do make-believe play, and all kinds of things!"

Bud raised his hand again, and Ms. Ratburn called on him. "Will we learn to read, too?" he asked.

"Yes!" Ms. Ratburn said jollily. "How many of you can already read a bit?"

A few of the kids raised their hand, including D.W.

Ms. Ratburn told them, "I'm sure you should all be able to read even more by the end of the school year."

D.W. smiled. So far, this school year was looking good!

Meanwhile, Mr. Ratburn had started the day with his new fourth grade class. Arthur and all of his friends were together in the classroom, along with a couple new kids they haven't met before. They were nervous about having Mr. Ratburn as a teacher, but Arthur and Buster were able to prove to them otherwise.

After Mr. Ratburn went through the usual first-day procedures and they all talked about what they did during the summer, he then announced, "And now, we will have a little math quiz to see what you all remember from third grade last year."

Some of the kids groaned, but Arthur, Buster, Francine, "The Brain," Muffy and especially Binky were used to this.

They took the quiz anyways. "The Brain" said to himself, "This is easy."

A while after, as Mr. Ratburn was collecting the tests, the intercom speaker crackled to life. "Mr. Ratburn, would you send Arthur Read and Ladonna Compson to the main office, please?" Ms. Tingley asked.

Mr. Ratburn went over to the intercom call switch and said, "Right away, Ms. Tingley."

Arthur gasped and looked at Ladonna, whom looked back at her.

Binky chuckled. "Awww, looks like Arthur and Ladonna are lovebirds!" He laughed.

As Mr. Ratburn cleared his throat at Binky, Arthur and Ladonna got up and left the classroom.

As they walked down the hallway, Arthur said to Ladonna, "I hope D.W. isn't causing so much trouble, and I hope this doesn't become a recurring thing."

"What makes you think this has to do with D.W.?" Ladonna asked.

"Because they called you, too," Arthur pointed out. "It must involve Bud as well."

"But Bud's not really a troublemaker," Ladonna pointed out. "He's usually pretty well-behaved."

Before entering the main office, Arthur realized something. "You know, Ladonna, I heard the school has a new principal this year, after Mr. Haney left. I wonder if this has something to do with that?"

"Well, let's find out," Ladonna drawled as they entered the office.

Sure enough, Ms. Tingley confronted the two. "Arthur Read, Ladonna Compson," she began. "We're having a bit of a problem with your younger siblings in their kindergarten class."

"I told you so," Arthur whispered to Ladonna.

Ms. Tingley continued, "We tried reaching your parents, but couldn't get a hold of them, so we figured you two could try to smooth things out."

"What's wrong?" Ladonna asked.

"Come on down to Ms. Ratburn's class, and I'll show you," Ms. Tingley said, and walked them there…

Sure enough, there was a noisy commotion going on in Ms. Ratburn's kindergarten class. Tommy and Timmy Tibble were fighting each other right on top of a desk with art supplies. D.W. was trying to restrain Tommy, while Bud was doing the same with Timmy.

Ms. Ratburn came to Ms. Tingley, Arthur and Ladonna. "It's the Tibble twins," she explained. "They began fighting over the art supplies, and soon they turned it into a big ruckus! I already notified their grandmother about it, and she just said that these things always happen between them. Then D.W. and Bud tried to stop them, but that seems to make the twins lash out more."

That was all Arthur and Ladonna needed to hear. Arthur went over and grabbed D.W., while Ladonna grabbed hold of Bud. D.W.'s nice clothes were covered with magic marker and crayon markings.

"D.W., what were you thinking?" Arthur asked.

"Well," D.W. explained, letting go of Tommy, "I thought since Bud and I are now in the big kids' school, we should act like big kids, including breaking up fights!"

Arthur sighed. "That's why we have the teachers and faculty available."

"I know you mean well," Ladonna said, "but even if you're now in elementary school with us, you're still a bit too young for certain things."

Ms. Ratburn looked at the Tibble twins, both of whom stopped fighting and gave sheepish smiles. Then she turned to Ms. Tingley. "I think we should set up for the Tibbles and their grandmother to meet with the school counselor," she said.

Ms. Tingley nodded in agreement. Then she said, "Arthur, Ladonna, you may go back to your classroom."

"Yes, ma'am," Arthur and Ladonna said in unison.

But before they left, D.W. and Bud pulled them aside.

"You were right, Arthur," D.W. softly told her older brother. "So far kindergarten looks fun, aside from the Tibbles fighting as usual!"

"I have to agree," Bud told Ladonna. "So far I think this will be better than preschool!"

Arthur and Ladonna both smiled at each other, and then left with Ms. Tingley.

"All right, class," Ms. Ratburn told her students, "let's clean up here. It's almost time for recess!"

"Oh boy! Recess!" Emily excitedly said.

"That sure sounds like fun," Bud agreed.

D.W. nodded. "It does, but first let's clean up the mess and put the art supplies away."

So, they did. Even Tommy and Timmy managed to be a good help in cleaning up.

"I'm so pleased by how you all worked together," Ms. Ratburn told them, "and with only a few seconds to spare!"

Then the recess bell rang. Timmy said, "Hey, I bet I can be louder than that bell!" He then let out a very loud yell: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

Tommy began shrieking as well to try and outdo Timmy. The other kids covered their ears at the racket, and then Ms. Ratburn got them to stop. "Why don't you save the yelling for outside, and do it a little softer?"

Over at the playground, Muffy and Francine were swinging together. Francine said, "Even with Mr. Ratburn as our teacher again, at least it's not a total recap of our first day of third grade."

"You're lucky you only had to go through it once," Binky told them as he was hanging with the Tough Customers, the rest of whom had now started fifth grade. "I'm just glad I'm finally done with third grade!"

At another part of the playground, the kindergarteners were playing with the sandbox and the slide. Arthur decided to go over and see how his sister and her friends were doing. "Hi, D.W.," he greeted.

"Arthur," D.W. said, "this playground is even more fun than the one at our preschool!"

Arthur beamed. "I'm glad you like it, D.W. How'd the day go so far?"

"Terrific!" D.W. said, jumping up. "My friends and I got to sing a couple of songs with Ms. Ratburn, and then we drew some pictures. Then Tommy and Timmy began fighting over a certain crayon they wanted."

"Oh," Arthur said. "It figures the Tibbles would fight over something small like that." He looked over to see the Tibble twins chasing each other, laughing and being noisy as usual.

Ladonna walked over to the kindergarteners as well, and Bud told her, "Did you hear what D.W. said? So far kindergarten is fun!"

"I'm proud of you, Bud," Ladonna said.

Arthur smiled. He was glad kindergarten was going smoothly for D.W. so far.

The school day was almost over. Ms. Ratburn announced to her kindergarten students, "It's almost time to go home, class. Let's all line up to leave. We're gonna have a great year. Tomorrow, we'll all read aloud 'Spotty Goes-a Counting!'" She held up the book as the kids lined up. Then the final bell rang, and Ms. Ratburn said "Well, children. There's the bell! See you tomorrow!"

"Good-bye, Ms. Ratburn!" the kids said in unison as they walked out of the classroom. D.W., Bud and James stopped once they got to the hall.

Emily was a bit confused. "D.W., Bud, James, aren't you coming with us?"

"We're waiting for our brother and sisters to meet up with us," D.W. explained. "I'm going to be walking home with Arthur."

"Oh, right," Emily said. "I kind of forgot that you and Arthur are now in the same school together."

"Same with me and Ladonna," Bud pointed out.

"And me and Molly," James added.

Sure enough, Arthur and his friends walked past. "Hey D.W., ready to go?" Arthur asked his sister.

"I sure am!" D.W. grinned.

Bud waved to his sister. "Hey, Ladonna! I'm ready to head for home!"

Molly also showed up with the rest of the Tough Customers, and Binky met up with them. James ran over to his sister. "Hey, Molly! I'm glad you're at the same school as I am,"

"No sweat," Molly said. "Anyone give you trouble?"

"Just the Tibble twins being their usual crazy selves," James reported.

Molly smiled. "Well, let them know that if they mess with you, they'll have to deal with your big sister!" She pounded her fist into her palm.

Emily gasped. "You don't mean…"

"I don't plan to hurt them," Molly explained. "I'll just scare some sense into them!"

Emily, D.W., James, Bud, Ladonna and Arthur all sighed with relief.

Outside the school, Arthur and D.W. met up with their mother.

"How was your first day of kindergarten?" Mrs. Read asked D.W.

"It was so much fun!" D.W. grinned. "We sang songs, we colored, we heard a story, we played a few games, we got to know each other, we had recess, we had a mid-morning snack and then later we had lunch, we had a wonderful time!"

Mrs. Read smiled. "I knew you would enjoy kindergarten, honey." She turned to Arthur. "How was your first day of fourth grade?"

"Okay," Arthur said. "At least we still have Mr. Ratburn, even if he gave us homework on the first day again."

Buster and Francine walked up to the Reads. "Hey Arthur," Buster said, "wanna go to the Sugar Bowl with us?"

"No thanks," Arthur said. "I'm going to walk with D.W. home from school, and then do my homework."

As they walked off, D.W. told her mother, "I don't know why Arthur says elementary school is so hard. It's really fun!"

Francine then told Buster, "It's not going to be a big deal if D.W. comes to school with Arthur, especially since she's not in our class."

Buster smiled. "I'm sure I could get used to it. Besides, Arthur told me at lunch that after the first week, their mom wouldn't be accompanying them walking to and from school; it'd be only him and D.W."

"Can you believe it?" Francine said. "D.W. sure is growing up."

"So are we," Buster pointed out. "I mean, we started fourth grade today! I thought being in third grade would never end!"

Francine rolled her eyes, and she and Buster walked off to the Sugar Bowl together.

END