My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.): Peter Brown
July 23, 2015
Book: My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
Author: Peter Brown
Age Range: 4-8
My Teacher Is A Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown is about how we may perceive others when we don't understand them (and how our perceptions can change with understanding). Bobby, the boy in the book, see his teacher, Ms. Kirby, as a monster. She roars and stomps around and generally impinges on his enjoyment of school. But when he runs into Ms. Kirby outside of school, a series of quiet adventures brings the two closer together. Gradually, Ms. Kirby starts to look less like a monster, and more like a real person.
The text in My Teacher Is a Monster is brief and to the point, with a slight nod towards the dramatic (as one would expect from a boy who sees his teacher as a monster). Like this:
"There was an awkward silence.
And then a gust of wind changed everything."
When I read this aloud, I put a lot of emphasis on "everything."
A fair bit of the story is told in the form of stilted yet humorous dialog between Bobby and Ms. Kirby. For example:
(Bobby, sitting next to Ms. Kirby on a park bench, staring straight ahead, raises his hand.)
"Robert, you don't need to raise your hand out here."
(Bobby lowers his hand.)
"What were you going to say?" (asks Ms. Kirby)
"I was going to say "Hello, Ms. Kirby."
The illustrations for this entire exchange (shown as small panels on a single page) are hilarious, with a wide-eyed Bobby, hair sticking straight up, looking tiny besides the grouchy, green monster. The illustrations ("made with India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, then digitally composited and colored") are vintage Peter Brown, with a similar color scheme to those in the The Curious Garden, and similar backgrounds to those of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. There's a lovely illustration of the path of "the single greatest paper airplane flight in history" that had my daughter tracing her finger along the looping dotted line.
My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) would make a wonderful classroom read-aloud for first or second graders. It's funny, but with a point, and with particular relevance to the school-going audience. The message about how we perceive people is relatively subtle (and there's some backsliding at the end of the book, to keep things light). Recommended for home, school, or library use.
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Source of Book: Personal copy, purchased for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own.
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