The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
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The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Ms. Finkleman is just our boring old music teacher. Or is she?


It all starts with a Special Project in Mr. Melville's Social Studies class: Solve a mystery in your own life. For seventh grader Bethesda Fielding, one mystery is too tempting to ignore: Ms. Finkleman.

Bethesda is convinced that her mousy Music Fundamentals teacher is hiding a secret life, and she’s determined t...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by HarperCollins (first published June 1st 2009)
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Rick Stuckwisch
We discovered this book after reading its sequel, "The Mystery of the Missing Everything." This one, too, was great fun and a delightful read. Same kind of "Tina Fey / Mean Girls" vibe, but aimed at a middle school / junior high level. Nothing risque or rude. Humorous, with the feel of easy banter throughout, but also thoughtful and at times poignant in its consideration of adolescent personality. We'll be watching for more books by this author.
Kaethe
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned
Shelves: debut
I'm enjoying the idea, but there's an annoying little thing that keeps bugging me: the author keeps using first and last names together of the students, after they've been introduced, and some of those names are tricky. It really seems to slow down the reading aloud. Which is one reason why I advise anyone writing for MG or younger to read their texts aloud before publication. It makes a difference.

***

We were liking it just okay, and couldn't manage to finish it even when it was more than a week...more
Beverly
Summary from Booklist: Ms. Finkleman, a mild-mannered Music Fundamentals teacher, is a completely anonymous figure at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School. She is such a nonentity that ace student Bethesda Fielding determines there must be more to her—a secret history that needs to be uncovered. When Bethesda discovers her teacher’s punk-music past, the repercussions are hilarious, revolutionary, and TWR (“Totally Way Rock”)



Mr. Melville is notorious for assigning "special projects" in his social stud...more
Jackie
Bethesda Fielding, while working on and completing a special project for her social studies class, discovers the answer to a baffling mystery about her music teacher, Ms. Finkleman. After scrounging and snooping around, Bethesda finds out that Ms. Finkleman was in a rock band a few years ago and they were good! Little Miss Mystery and the Red Herrings featured none other than their teacher, Ida Finkleman...how come she is a fuddy-duddy, classical music loving, boring teacher at Mary Todd Lincoln...more
Joshua
This book was just a fun read in the vein of the Frindle era Andrew Clements with an enjoyable main character, solid plot, and a few predictable and entertaining twists... however it has 3 main issues that concern me and hold it back from a higher level...

1. Marketing: The cover just looks dated... I could see an arm with a tattoo... I can see musical instruments... I could see the punk album cover... but two kids... and that girl... uuuurrrggghhhh...

2. Cheaters never prosper... except in this b...more
Munro's Kids
This is a fun and goofy middle school story along the lines of Richard Scrimger or Gordon Korman, and pulled off surprisingly well. The author effectively straddles the line between the outlandish and the grounded and the main character, Bethesda, has a unique and relatable presence. The interplay between her, Tenny and Ms Finkleman feeds into the lively plot while also humanizing the stakes. It makes for a satisfying experience, good for preteens of either gender.
-Angela
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman is a fun, engaging middle grade read.

When 7th grader Bethseda Fielding is giving a class assignment to solve a mystery, she takes it upon herself to find out who their shy, mousy voiced music teacher, Ms Finkleman really is. When her ambitions of solving the mystery get ahead of her, Bethseda will not only have gained new friends, helped some of her fellow students discover their talents and turn the school upside down with her latest discovery, but she'll learn...more
Katieb (MundieMoms)
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman is a fun, engaging middle grade read.

When 7th grader Bethseda Fielding is giving a class assignment to solve a mystery, she takes it upon herself to find out who their shy, mousy voiced music teacher, Ms Finkleman really is. When her ambitions of solving the mystery get ahead of her, Bethseda will not only have gained new friends, helped some of her fellow students discover their talents and turn the school upside down with her latest discovery, but she'll learn...more
Addison Children
Bethesda is looking for a secret behind the school's mousy music teacher. As luck and plot would have she finds one; Ms Finkleman was once the famous rock star Little Miss Mystery! This news causes a change in the school's upcoming choral program to Rock n Roll, much to the delight of many of the students. But as plot would have it, this is not Ms Finkleman's only secret.
Gene
"The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman" is about a brainiac girl named Bethesda Feildings and a total spaced out kid named Tenny Boyer. It all started in a history project, solve your own mystery. Some other kids in Bethesda's class did stupid things like why hot dogs come in packeges in 12 when hot dog buns are in packeges of 8? Well Bethesda got a interesting one... what is Ms. Finkleman's real life? When she found a list of songs in Ms. Finkleman's drawer, is it ture... Did Ms. Finkleman used to b...more
Brandi Rae
I really wanted to like this one so much more than I did. When Bethesda's seventh grade history class is instructed to solve a mystery she discovers that the school's mousy, near invisible music teacher used to be a punk rock singer!

But what made Ms. Finkleman leave it all behind? And will the class be able to pull together the rock show to end all rock shows in time to win the Chorus Corral?

The book was fun, and I was really rooting for the kids. However I'm not sure how many readers will real...more
Terry
Big Kid Reaction: This is a quick read. The mystery is not so predictable that you can see the twist coming too early. Kevin, Tenny, and the rock concert keep this from being a “girl book,” which the cover seems to suggest. Bethesda’s relationship with her dad is a a nice change from the frequent mother-daughter tandems that fill books for kids this age. I loved that it showed a healthy relationship between a dad and his teenage daughter.

Pros: Boys and girls alike will relate to Bethesda, Kevin,...more
mandyfujita
I enjoyed reading how Bethesda Fielding completed her social studies assignment of finding a mystery and solving it. She decided to unearth the mystery behind her music fundamentals teacher, Ms. Finkleman. She discovers and announces during her presentation that Ms. Finkleman was a rock star from the 1990s band Little Miss Mystery and the Red Herrings. The school goes crazy especially when they find out that they are putting on a rock show in the annual All-County Choral Corral.

Lots of intera...more
Michael
Very solid YA book. Writing about rock music is tough - it's a tightrope walk between being too obscure on one side, and too uncool on the other. Winters does a really great job conveying the excitement music can bring to both the jaded music enthusiast and those new to the genre. My only quibble: there are about five songs on Weezer's first album that would be better for a middle school concert than "Holiday". Everyone's a critic.
Mrs. Knott
Fans of Andrew Clements will enjoy this book! The students find out that their boring music teacher actually used to be a rock star (or was she???)! But Ms. Finkleman is not too happy that her "cover" has been blown. Ms. Finkleman forms a secret alliance with two students - Tenny and Bethesda. Between the three of them, they have to pull off the greatest choral concert ever and find a way for Tenny to pass the "Floating Midterm" exam in their history class so he won't have to go to a different s...more
Peggy
This is a fun, well-written story of a group of middleschoolers who are assigned a special project. They are to solve a mystery in their own lives. Bethesda decides that her music teacher, Ms. Finkleman, has a secret life, and she sets out to uncover it. The results are surprising, and in the process of her research, many lives are changed, including Bethesda's. This is a great depiction of the life of a middleschooler and all the anxiety/excitement that comes with that. The character developmen...more
Kaethe
Feb 28, 2011 Kaethe marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debut
I'm enjoying the idea, but there's an annoying little thing that keeps bugging me: the author keeps using first and last names together of the students, after they've been introduced, and some of those names are tricky. It really seems to slow down the reading aloud. Which is one reason why I advise anyone writing for MG or younger to read their texts aloud before publication. It makes a difference.

***

We were liking it just okay, and couldn't manage to finish it even when it was more than a week...more
Bethany
You never know what answers you'll find when you tease apart the threads of a mystery. Bethesda certainly didn't know that she would upend the school and a teacher's life by trying to learn something (anything!) about mousy Ms. Finkleman's past. The music teacher doesn't seem particularly interesting, but Bethesda is determined to dig up something juicy.

There's a good deal about this book that simply doesn't make sense, but it's a fun riff on a "School of Rock" theme. The characters are all tak...more
Carol Wilcox
One part Harriet the Spy, one part adolescent friendship, one part Rock and Roll, with a style similar to a novel by Andrew Clements. Bethesda's social studies teacher asks his students to find a mystery in their lives and solve it. Bethesda decides she will learn more about Ms. Finklestein, the reclusive music teacher. Her search for information leads her to believe that Ms. Finkleman actually used to be Little Miss Mystery, a rock star from the Red Herrings. Her discovery turns her middle scho...more
melissa1lbr
My thoughts: This is a short, sweet, and fairly funny story about the mysterious lives of teachers - what do they do outside of school? A story that seems to not have much depth, but pulls a few surprises before it ends. It's something to give your MG kids who like music and wonder what their teachers do in their spare time.
Full review at One Librarian's Book Reviews.
Cathy
An ambitious student takes on a mystery and turns her whole school unpside down, forming new friends, finding new talents, and very possibly saving a familial relationship in the process. The mystery of just who the mousy, drab music teacher really is- and was- is a surprise. The writing is great, characters well developed, and music references much to my liking (Weezer for band practice anyone?!) This will be HUGE with the 5th - 7th grade crowd!
Christiane
Have you ever known someone so boring, so dull and predictable you just know they must have a secret past? Seventh-grader Bethesda is certain her mousy Music Fundamentals teacher is hiding something, and...turns out she is right. The rest of the book is what happens after Bethesda reveals the big secret, and should appeal to fans of school fiction, mysteries, and maybe even Glee fans since a big part of the story is preparing for a big musical finale.
Destani Vanardalen
This is about a girl named Bethesda who has to write a report about a mystery in someones life. The first thing that got to her head was to write the report on Ms. Finkleman. Everyone that she told was like why do you want to write this report on the boring music teacher. Will Bethesda figure out if the teacher is really a rockstar. If you really want to find out you should read this fun filling book!
Lisa
Life at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School becomes a lot more exciting when a student discovers that their shy, mousy chorus teacher used to be a rock star. And not just a rock star--a punk rock star. A fun, quick read. The central friendship between a thoughtful girl and a spacey, quiet guy reminded me of The Unknowns: A Math Mystery by Benedict Carey.
Lorraine Stinson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marcia
Jun 19, 2011 Marcia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: grades 5-6
Is the mousy middle school music teacher a former punk rock star? 7th grader Betheseda wants to find out, in this fun middle school mystery with a rock and roll beat. Very reminiscent of Andrew Clements and Gordon Korman, this one will be enjoyed by fans of realistic school fiction. Looking forward to more from this author!
Tracie
When her history class is given the assignment to solve a mystery, Bethesda Fielding knows exactly who she wants to investigate - her mousy music teacher, Ms. Finkleman. No one is prepared for the consequences when Bethesda discovers Ms. Finkleman's past life as a former punk rock star.
Ann
As a teacher, this author reminded me of Andrew Clements a bit. I like the picture he paints of the social studies teacher, Mr. Melville and of Ms. Finkleman. The references to music are fun and it is interesting to see how the students grew as the story went on to a fun climax.
Mary Beth
A great middle school read in the style of Andrew Clements. A teacher with a mysterious rock-star past. Bethseda Fielding needs to get to the bottom of it, as well as help Tenny Brooks pass his history midterm. A lot of laugh-out-loud moments and a story with a heart.
Diana Renn
Great fun! This is a quirky mystery about a nondescript music teacher's previous life (as a punk rock singer). It's full of authentic middle school angst, an appealing ensemble cast, and fantastic humor.
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