I've been a fan of the Arthur series since I was a kid and I enjoy sharing them with my daughter and my second grade class. In this one, Arthur gets Mr. Ratburn for a teacher, who is the toughest teacher in the whole school and also gives the most amount of homework. Arthur becomes overwhelmed by all the work and resentful that other classes get to do fun things. He has to take a spelling test of 100 words, which prepares him for the spelling bee. Thanks to all his studying he goes on to be very successful in the spelling bee, ironically spelling "preparation."
What I love about this story, aside from the colorful illustrations, is that it teaches an important lesson: working hard for something and doing your best always yields the greatest reward, even if it's an unexpected one. Arthur learns that Mr. Ratburn was so hard on them because he wanted them to do their best. Great story!