The Barnes & Noble Review
An unsuspecting classroom plays tug-of-war with literary characters in this jubilant and magical picture book from the creator of Mystery Mansion and The Mouse Before Christmas.
When Miss Smith enters class on the first day of school, she seems "very... different from Zack's other teachers": Her spiky red hair and "The Clash" pin aren't the strangest thing about her; it's also the book she reads. When Miss Smith begins a tale from her "incredible storybook," the characters spring to life -- hopping back into the book once the story is finished -- and that week, the class winds up on board a pirate ship, meeting Red Riding Hood and enjoying other characters' company. But when the principal steps in for Miss Smith one morning, a fantasy tale freaks him out, and the room fills suddenly with a mass of characters who aren't happy with the thought of going back to their stories. Kids and fictional figures get into a sour tug-of-war over the book, but thankfully, Miss Smith shows up to set things right.
Michael Garland has dreamed up another colorfully creative book, this time emphasizing reading and imagination. Kids will love seeing the classroom chaos, while parents can appreciate the underlying message. A zany treat on every page. Matt Warner
With her spiky red-orange hair, leather jacket and "The Clash" pin, "Miss Smith seemed very... different from Zack's other teachers. But the day went along like every school day Zack could remember-until Miss Smith said, `It's story time.' " The teacher opens a leather-bound volume with a filigree cover, and the pages begin to glow. As Miss Smith reads, fantasy characters appear and the classroom transforms into a pirate ship or a fairy-tale forest until the story is complete. One day, Miss Smith is late and the school principal picks up the magic tome. When a dragon emerges, he flees, and the giddy children pass the book around. Before long, familiar characters like the Three Bears, Headless Horseman, Cowardly Lion and Mad Hatter are on the loose, and Miss Smith has to get them under control. Garland (The Mouse Before Christmas) styles petite Miss Smith as a punk-rock throwback, but he doesn't draw any connection between her distinctive looks and the storybook's powers. Miss Smith seems like a wayward character from some other tale, and child character Zack barely registers on the plot. Likewise, visual icons like Alice and Bo Peep may be present, but without their attendant narratives, they lack substance. The author acknowledges classic children's literature without igniting enthusiasm for it. Ages 5-11. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Zack was afraid that school would be boring this year, just like last year. His new teacher Miss Smith was a pleasant surprise. She seemed different. When she began to read her storybook, he was amazed that the characters came to life. The whole class was in the middle of the pirate story, feeling the sea breeze and hearing the waves. From that day on Zack could not wait to get to school. One day Miss Smith was late and the principal came in and started reading from her storybook. The principal was so startled when a knight and dragon come out of the book into the classroom he ran off to get help. Children picked up the book and started reading other stories. Their characters also appear in the room. As the book is passed around, the classroom gets very crowded. Miss Smith finally makes it back to school and knows exactly how to solve this problem. She has to finish each story for the characters to jump back into the book. 2003, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 6 to 10.
Gr 1-4-Zack's exciting new teacher has a magic storybook. When she opens it up and reads aloud, the characters pop out and bring the tales to life right before the students' eyes. But Miss Smith's book isn't for everybody, and when stuffy Principal Rittenrotten has to fill in for her one morning, the dragon, princess, and knight that materialize from the pages send him from the room in a panic. The only way to make them disappear is to finish their respective stories, but Zack's classmates keep beginning new ones instead, until the school is overrun with Goldilocks, the Mad Hatter, and other such characters, seen vividly cavorting across the full-page spreads. Fortunately, Miss Smith shows up just in time and returns them to the safety of the book's pages, leaving the principal confused and her students forever in her debt. The lively, bright illustrations have a glossy, computer-generated quality that young readers will appreciate. Miss Smith wears a black leather jacket and a lapel button advertising "The Clash," and has a punk-rock hairdo. A satisfactory addition to most collections.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Zack's new second-grade teacher confounds his expectations, not so much with her black leather jacket and flaming red brush-cut, as with the big, ornately tooled book she carries-which, when opened, disgorges real pirates, pigs, knights, dragons, and the like as she reads. When Miss Smith is late one day, the Principal, and then the children, get hold of her book, and because they can't manage to finish the stories they start, utter chaos ensues until she sweeps in to restore order. Using saturated hues and crisply drawn figures, Garland crowds the classroom with lively characters, many of them recognizable from classic stories and folktales. A brief but animated invitation to the pleasures of reading, as well as a tribute to unconventional teachers everywhere. (Picture book. 6-9)