Praise for Teaching Mrs. Muddle
"This story is perfectly suited to settle some first day jitters, but will also be appreciated by teachers and parents who know what it takes to help children feel comfortable in new environments."—School Library Journal
“Nelson’s narratorial voice is clear and charming, and the choice to illustrate Kayla as a dark-skinned girl of color is pleasing.”—Kirkus Reviews
“We rated this book: [5/5]...Colleen Nelson has written a really sweet story that will help young students with their first-day jitters. The writing has a great sense of fun and the story will make the pages fly by….A most charming book.”—Seattle Book Review
“Whether or not the reader knows that Mrs. Muddle’s ‘mistakes’ were on purpose, they will enjoy following her and the class all around the school...The illustrations add to the humor and really give the feel of a tour around an elementary school….This would be a perfect read aloud for a first day of kindergarten (or preschool, or first grade).”—Youth Services Book Review
“A fun-loving, thoughtful picture book about first-day-of-school jitters, empowerment and personal growth...Nelson has astutely captured both the curiosity and nervousness that often accompanies kids when beginning something new. And Carter’s bright, delightfully whimsical illustrations bring Kayla and her new school world brilliantly to life...A practical resource for librarians, teachers and families, this timely book makes the grade as ideal reading for bringing the focus back to a love of learning, friendship and fun...”—Canadian Children’s Book News
“Colleen Nelson creates a very relatable school situation that is both engaging and charming. It’s giving Kayla and every child the opportunity to see that they embody far greater capabilities than they imagine they possess....Even in a light but big-hearted story about finding your own way by helping others, Colleen Nelson drives home the conviction that young people can do so much.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians
“The illustrations were the best part of this book. They absolutely made the story come to life...From problems matching nametags to kids at the beginning of the day, to going to different rooms in the school as the day progressed, to using snacks as art supplies, the kids learn to work together to get things done and keep Mrs. Muddle organized.”—Canadian Bookworm
“[A] really lovable and amusing story that's sure to ease some first day jitters.”—Little Bookworm Club
“Teaching Mrs. Muddle is a funny little book that conveys the message that it is okay to be nervous about starting new things; it’s a universal feeling shared not just by students but their teachers too; what is important is to be kind and extend help when you see that someone could with it.”—The Vancouver Writer’s Fest
“This heartwarming tale had me smiling and giggling as Mrs. Muddle brilliantly guides her students and puts their worries at ease through her “mistakes”.”—@jmebills
PreS-Gr 2—The first day of school can be scary and very, very confusing, and not just for the students. Kayla, with straight dark brown hair and light brown skin, worries about her first day of kindergarten, unsure about the location of the bathroom and wondering what her mother will do without her for an entire day. But when Kayla and her mother arrive at school to find her new teacher, Mrs. Muddle, a white lady with red curls, handing name tags to the wrong children and reading a book upside down, Kayla takes charge to keep the class, their teacher, and the first day of school on track. Nelson embraces the nervousness of walking into a school for the first time and blends those feelings with the antics of a hapless teacher who would get along just fine with Amelia Bedelia. Friendly and colorful illustrations depict a diverse group of students with a zany teacher at the helm, dressed in polka dots from her pants to her vest to the headband desperately trying to hold back her hair. Children not yet old enough to read will be engrossed by the detailed images of all the places they may find in a school building. VERDICT This story is perfectly suited to settle some first day jitters, but will also be appreciated by teachers and parents who know what it takes to help children feel comfortable in new environments.—Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen P.L., NJ
It’s Kayla’s first day of kindergarten, and she’s riddled with anxiety about all the mistakes she’s sure she will make.
Then Kayla meets her teacher, Mrs. Muddle, and realizes that she might not be the only one learning the ropes. Mrs. Muddle passes out all the nametags to the wrong students, reads the morning storybook upside down, and confuses the library with the gym. Every time she makes a mistake, Kayla corrects her by figuring out the answer on her own. By the time the day is over, Kayla is confident in her ability to navigate her new school. Nelson’s narratorial voice is clear and charming, and the choice to illustrate Kayla as a dark-skinned girl of color is pleasing. The plot is not without its flaws, however. While Kayla claims to her mother after school that she made new friends, readers mostly see Kayla interacting with Mrs. Muddle, without the help of other students who might also be trying to correct their wayward teacher. Many of Kayla’s classmates appear also to be children of color. This would be a commendable gesture to diversity except that it transforms the book into the story of how a White teacher seems to decide that the best way to assuage the first-day jitters of a set of diverse kindergartners is to feign incompetence, a tactic that comes across as condescending.
Doesn’t quite make the grade. (Picture book. 4-6)