Two Books for Teacher Appreciation Week
With the beginning of May, both students and teachers alike can see the end of the school year looming ahead. And, what better time to celebrate the teachers in our own lives, and in our children’s, that have opened the doors of learning, cooperation, courtesy, collaborative endeavor and respect for one’s classmates in that little microcosm of the real world called the classroom, than Teacher Appreciation Day.
What goes on there six hours a day, five days a week, can be life-changing and life enhancing, in that those hours and interactions with both teachers and classmates, can shape a child’s ability to persist, persevere, and push through difficulties in learning and life.
And that is no small stuff.
So, here are two books to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week.
They are different in approach and lessons learned, but each provides a learning curve for young readers that is worth looking at.
Teacher Appreciation Day
by Lynne Plourde; illustrations by Thor Wickstrom
It’s Teacher Appreciation Day, and Mrs Shepherd’s class has come up with some pretty prosaic ways to salute her pedagogical prowess. They are:
Buy apples for the teacher.
Wear her favorite color green.
Draw pictures of her dog.
Clean the blackboards.
They are all quite nice, but creatively, not particularly pushing the envelope.
Maybella Jean Wishywashy has other ideas entirely that take non-conformity to a new level of endeavor. She goes full tilt to demonstrate her appreciation of her teacher’s tutorial abilities.
Her ideas to celebrate Mrs Shepherd include:
Buys lots of things from the store.
Wears every piece of apparel she owns.
Paints pictures of every pet that pops into her head.
Cleans the entire classroom.
Maybella Jean is not a half-way measure kind of kid. She believes in going the distance. And, her largess is, well, a bit overwhelming to an Olive Oyl twin named Mrs. Shepherd.
Has Maybella missed the appreciation mark?
As TV crews descend to capture this classroom occasion, the rest of the pupils are like clams when asked what they appreciate the “most” about Mrs. Shepherd?
Maybella immediately pipes up, “Everything.”
Thoughtful, creative thinking, coupled with Thor Wickstrom’s zany and unconventional art, is spot on in capturing the theme of thinking outside the box, as students today ponder their part in future projects in the classroom; including that of “Teacher Appreciation Day!”
Miss Nelson is Missing
By Harry G. Allard, Jr., illustrations by James Marshall
Joni Mitchell coined a phrase in her 60’s hit called “Big Yellow Taxi.” And the phrase warned its listener’s, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
Well, Harry G. Allard Jr., might have had that exact phrase in mind, teacher wise, at least, while penning the hilarious “Miss Nelson is Missing,” originally published in 1977.
What class has not tried to take advantage just a mite of a teacher’s kindness and understanding heart?
Room 207 is the home of a rambunctious and unruly class taught by the ever-patient and sweet-faced Miss Nelson. Despite her pleadings for order and quiet calm, so that real learning can occur, they seem to fall on heedlessly deaf ears. Spitballs are flying and paper planes are zooming through the air, despite the pleadings of the conscientious and kind Miss Nelson.
But, the tables are about to be turned, and the tide is about to change for this particular class of cutups. One Viola Swamp, a witchy substitute teacher with a demeanor that can wither with a single look, is about to descend on this classroom of cluelessly, carefree students. Miss Nelson is missing, or so it would seem.
No more the sincere, but naively nice, Miss Nelson to pull the wool over, and get round. The class must now deal with the cagey Miss Swamp, who is wise to every attempted shenanigan they attempt, and stops them cold.
The class eventually realizes and repents their misbehaviors, wanting Miss Nelson back, and Miss Swamp gone. But can such a thing happen? Is Miss Nelson truly missing? And why is Miss Swamp seen coming from Miss Nelson’s home?
Most questions are answered satisfactorily at the picture book’s conclusion, but there are subtler ones as to certain identities of the principal parties involved are left hanging, adding a certain air of mysterious uncertainty that adds just the right note to the book’s open-ended and thought provoking ending.
James Marshall’s illustrations of the blond and cherubic Miss Nelson, as opposed to that of Miss Swamp’s side buns of black hair caressing a pale, ashen face, accompanied by continually pursed dark lips with long pointed fingernails, are the perfect extreme studies in contrast.
Each teacher’s exterior is a clue to what lies beneath. Or does it?
Young readers and teachers will love this perfect read aloud for Teacher Appreciation Week. And dare I say it, students just might shower their present teachers with a tad more appreciation, lest someone akin to the woeful Miss Swamp, descend upon the scene.
Miss Nelson is Back, and Miss Nelson has a Field Day are additional titles by the same author.
Everyone has a special teacher in school that affected their life tremendously for the good. In thinking of them, please enjoy this 1967 hit by Lulu, “To Sir With Love,” from the movie of the same name.
For me, it was a Ms. K and Mr. L who both set the bar quite high for achievement in elementary and high school, and made me believe it was possible to reach it.
Here’s hoping your young reader is lucky enough to have one in their educational career. And if they do, remember to have them say thank you. It’s never too late to do it.
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