Good Luck, Mrs. K.!

Overview

Mrs. Kempczinski -- "Mrs. K." to her third-grade students -- is everyone's favorite teacher. Exciting and dynamic, Mrs. K. knows sign language, celebrates Worm Day, and performs "homework dances." One day the third graders are explorers, learning about faraway places. Other days, they are poets or scientists or astronauts. Every day with Mrs. K. is different, and every day is fun.

Suddenly, though, Mrs. K. is not in school and Room 3 has a substitute teacher. The principal ...

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Overview

Mrs. Kempczinski -- "Mrs. K." to her third-grade students -- is everyone's favorite teacher. Exciting and dynamic, Mrs. K. knows sign language, celebrates Worm Day, and performs "homework dances." One day the third graders are explorers, learning about faraway places. Other days, they are poets or scientists or astronauts. Every day with Mrs. K. is different, and every day is fun.

Suddenly, though, Mrs. K. is not in school and Room 3 has a substitute teacher. The principal explains that Mrs. K. is in the hospital with cancer. The class writes letters and draws pictures for Mrs. K. One student, Ann Zesterman, tells Mrs. K. that she says "Kemp-chin-ski" for good luck when she plays basketball at recess. Another, A.J., wonders how many operations it takes to cure cancer, but no one has the answer. When will Mrs. K. come back?

Based on a true story, narrated by nine-year-old Ann and with lovely full-color paintings, this honest and forthright story addresses a subject of much importance and concern for young and old alike.

All the students in the third grade are affected when their beloved teacher, Mrs. Kempczinski, is suddenly hospitalized with cancer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A third-grade narrator describes the class's reaction when their beloved teacher is suddenly stricken with cancer. In a starred review, PW said, "Borden's understated prose rings true, and the inherent poignancy in her text is underscored by first-time illustrator Gustavson's expressive watercolors." Ages 6-10. (July) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers be warned, this is lump-in-the-throat material. Borden (Albie the Lifeguard; The Little Ships) tackles a difficult subject not often found in picture books, in a sensitive story about a third-grade class whose teacher is suddenly stricken with cancer. Mrs. Kempczinski's ("Say it like this... Kemp-chin-ski!") students love everything about her, from the plastic worm earrings and candy worms she brings in on Worm Day to the special dances she does when all the homework comes in on time. When "Mrs. K." is hospitalized for cancer treatment, the students rally to her support, sending letters and keeping her updated on what they are learning with her substitute. The day after school ends for the summer, the principal reconvenes the class for a surprise--Mrs. K. is there for a visit. "Her cheeks weren't as chubby as before, but I could still hear all that fun in Mrs. K.'s voice," notes the third-grade narrator, and together Mrs. K.'s students skate through the empty halls, chanting their beloved teacher's name and wishing her luck. Borden's understated prose rings true, and the inherent poignancy in her text is underscored by first-time illustrator Gustavson's expressive watercolors. He does a superb job with the faces in particular, the characters' emotions are carefully nuanced, and his slightly somber palette of grays and earth tones sets the mood without dampening the affection in the story. A thoughtful and original effort on all accounts. Ages 6-10. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Laura Hummel
Anyone who remembers a special teacher will delight in meeting Mrs. Kempczinski, or Mrs. K. as her students fondly call her. She brings the world to her third grade students through the magic of books and challenges them to read, read, read. Her students are fascinated by her height and the thirteen keys that hang on her belt, but they really love the various dances she does when everyone turns in homework on time. Mrs. K. also has a special Worm Day, a class guinea pig and a "third Grade way" that encourages the students to be teachers too. Suddenly there is a substitute teacher. The principal tells the children that Mrs. K. is in the hospital with cancer and needs to have an operation. Borden's heart-warming story and Gustavson's beautiful watercolor illustrations deal compassionately with such a serious illness. Based on a true story, it is told in the voice of Ann, one of the students in Room 3.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A third-grade girl and her class are enchanted by Mrs. Kempczinski, a self-confident teacher who calls her students explorers and detectives and takes them around the world through books. She punctuates a science unit on worms by wearing plastic worm earrings and providing a candy-worm snack. However, the treat that receives the most applause is the homework dance Mrs. K performs when all of the children turn in their work on time. The students spend a delightful half year with her before the principal explains that she has cancer and is in the hospital. Borden portrays a difficult situation in direct, yet loving, language. Students facing similar circumstances will be comforted by the eventual recovery of the beloved teacher, and those unfamiliar with such a trauma will be touched by a truly endearing story. Gustavson's watercolor illustrations exude all of the warmth and vibrancy of Borden's words. The illustration showing the homework dance is classic. This unique and eloquent story should be a part of every collection.-Jackie Hechtkopf, University of Maryland, College Park Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689821479
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.34 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Borden graduated from Denison University with a degree in history. She taught first graders and preschoolers and later was a part-owner of a bookstore in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to writing children’s books, she also speaks regularly to young students about the writing process. Her books include Good Luck, Mrs. K!, which won the Christopher Medal, and The A+ Custodian. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and you can visit her at LouiseBorden.com.

Adam Gustavson is a graduate of Rowan University and the Master of Fine Arts Illustration program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. In addition to illustrating picture books, he currently teaches at Passaic County Community College and Seton Hall University. He lives and paints in West Orange, New Jersey, with his wife, their children, several guitars, and a ferret named Gracie.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2001

    Great Book To Help Children Deal With Cancer!

    This year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I immediately thought of 'Good Luck Mrs. K,' which I had previously read. I read it to my class after I had told them about my cancer. I liked how it was told through the student's eyes. I also liked that the teacher was a survivor. I continue to teach during my chemo, but this was a great analogy to share with my third graders.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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