Back to School

This Amish-life book is the second in the "Rachel Yoder" series by Wanda E. Brunstetter and is published by Barbour Publishing.

Back to School is written for kids ages 7 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness..

Plot Summary

On the first day of school, Rachel Yoder, a young Amish girl, can only find one dress shoe and one tennis shoe. So she starts the year by wearing mismatched shoes. This catches the attention of Orlie, the new boy at school, who calls Rachel a silly child. Orlie continues to make fun of Rachel as the year progresses. She decides to get even with him by putting a mouse in his desk. This plan goes awry, and the mouse ends up on the teacher's desk instead. Rachel attempts to make peace by giving Orlie a piece of the cake she bakes, but Orlie makes fun of it in front of the class. He gives Rachel an apple that has a worm in it. Rachel thinks the worst thing in the world has happened when she and Orlie are chosen to play Mary and Joseph in the Christmas play. During the play, Rachel forgets her lines, and Orlie comes to her rescue by saying the lines as though they were his. Afterwards Orlie tells Rachel that he was only teasing her at school to get her attention because he likes her. They each apologize for being mean to the other and determine to be friends.

Christian Beliefs

The teacher reads from the Bible at school. The Amish have a church service every other week. They also perform a nativity play.

Authority Roles

The teacher talks about the Bible with the class. The parents do their best to guide the children. Rachel's grandfather moves in with the family and helps Rachel deal with some of her questions and problems.

Other Belief Systems


Profanity/Graphic Violence






Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • What does Orlie do to Rachel from the first day of school forward?
    How does Rachel eventually retaliate?
    What could Rachel have done instead?
  • What does Rachel give Orlie as a peace offering?
    How does Orlie respond?
    How do his actions make Rachel feel?
  • How does Rachel feel when she finds out that she and Orlie will be Mary and Joseph in the Christmas play?
    What does Rachel do during the play?
    How does Orlie help her?
    How do his actions help them become friends?
  • How does teasing hurt and/or help others?
    Does anyone tease you?
    How does it make you feel? How do you respond?

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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