My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Bobby is convinced that his teacher, Ms. Kirby, is a monster. She stomps, she roars, and she has no appreciation for paper airplanes. (Bobby, of course, is perfectly innocent.) To forget his problems with Ms. Kirby, Bobby goes to the park, but he runs into something here that he doesn’t expect…Ms. Kirby.

At first, Bobby is very nervous around his teacher. After all, he never expected to see her at his favorite spot. Eventually, though, he realizes that maybe she’s not so monstrous after all. She may even be kind of human…and fun!

Will this day at the park change how Bobby views Ms. Kirby, or will he still see her as a monster when they return to school on Monday? We shall see!

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is an excellent book to show that there’s maybe more to teachers–and students–than meets the eye. Teachers and students alike will appreciate the transition from monster to human as Bobby realizes that teachers are a little different outside of school. Maybe this book could foster a little more understanding between these two groups and a realization that we’re not so different.

A fun writing exercise might be to have students write their own stories of how teachers view students, perhaps My Student Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.). Of course, teachers could have a lot of fun with this as well!

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is a perfect book for fans of Mike Thaler’s Black Lagoon books and would make a wonderful read-aloud at any age level.

Here’s a short book trailer I created for this fun book. Feel free to use in your own library or classroom (but remember to give me credit).

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year, written by Bill Harley and illustrated by Adam Gustavson, is a nominee for the 2015-16 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Charlie Bumpers should be excited about going into the fourth grade. He would be…if his teacher were anyone but Mrs. Burke. Charlie has history with Mrs. Burke, so he’s sure that she’s going to make his life absolutely miserable. And he doesn’t care that she’s the Teacher of the Year. Charlie didn’t vote for her.

At first, it seems that Charlie may be right about his new teacher. Mrs. Burke really does appear to have it in for Charlie Bumpers. It doesn’t help that Charlie always finds himself in the middle of trouble. (He doesn’t mean to get into these messes, really! They just kind of happen.)

Charlie hopes that his entire fourth grade year won’t be horrible, but how can he get things on the right track when Mrs. Burke is always waiting on him to mess up? Can he turn things around? Is Mrs. Burke really all that bad? Find out how Charlie comes to terms with Mrs. Burke when you read Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year!

I think this book would be an excellent read-aloud for upper elementary classrooms, especially fourth grade. It’s both funny and relatable, and I think kids will really enjoy it. Also, it’s the first book in a new series, and many students are always game for a cool new series (especially young readers who either really like or are a little tired of Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

The Art of Miss Chew

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco was nominated for the 14-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Young Patricia is a gifted artist, but she has some difficulty taking timed tests. With the help of a great teacher, Patricia is given more time to work, and she’s also led to Miss Chew. After school, Miss Chew teaches Patricia all about art and encourages the girl’s remarkable talent.

One day, a substitute teacher comes along and tries to convince others that Patricia wouldn’t have problems with tests if she spent more time studying and less time on art. Luckily, Miss Chew (and other adults in Patricia’s life) comes to the rescue, and Patricia is given the guidance and support she needs.

The Art of Miss Chew emphasizes the importance of good teachers and the positive impact these individuals can have on our lives. (After all, the girl in this story, Patricia Polacco herself, has gone on to be a prolific author and illustrator!) This book also demonstrates the power of art and would be an excellent addition to art teachers’ classroom libraries.

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington, written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by Bryan Collier, is nominated for the 14-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Fifty Cents and a Dream is an inspiring story about a young Booker T. Washington. It introduces young readers to this important figure, his early life as a slave, a worker in salt mines, his first days in school, and, eventually, a young man who journeys hundreds of miles just for the chance to go to college. He finally arrives–with only fifty cents in his pocket. Even then, he must work day and night to make his dream a reality.

This book shines a light on the power of words, dreams, and persistence. Booker T. Washington never gave up on his dreams of becoming an educated man, even when it would have been easier to quit. He persevered and became not only a college graduate but also a writer, professor, and leader. He founded the Tuskegee Institute and paved the way for many young men and women who would come after him.

In addition to being an excellent book to use in Black History Month celebrations, I think Fifty Cents and a Dream is a fine addition to any public, classroom, school, or personal library. It shows readers the power of dreams, but it does emphasize that those dreams won’t become a reality without a great deal of hard work and commitment.

Because of Mr. Terupt

In Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, we follow seven students through their fifth grade year.  They’re all in Mr. Terupt’s class.  Mr Terupt is a new teacher.  Some students think he’ll be a pushover.  Some students see this class as their chance to start fresh.  But one thing is the same for all of them.  This year–and this teacher–will change their lives forever.

Mr. Terupt is a brand-new teacher at Snow Hill School in Connecticut. His fifth grade class if full of students who are as interesting as they are different. Jessica has just moved from California after her mom’s split with her dad.  Anna is a shy girl who is an outcast through no fault of her own.  Danielle is a girl who lets what others say and think matter too much.  Alexia is a mean girl who will create drama at the first opportunity.  Peter is a class clown who never seems to get into trouble.  Luke is the class brain and always has to have the right answer first.  Jeffrey hates everything about school…and home.

Somehow, Mr. Terupt manages to reach all of these students in his own special way.  For some of them, school is fun for the first time.  Other students are breaking out of their shells.  Some are realizing just how much their actions impact others.  Mr. Terupt is making a difference in these kids’ lives…but no one realizes how much this special teacher really means to his students until something happens that threatens to take him away forever.

What will the class do without their teacher?  Who is to blame for what happened to Mr. Terupt?  Will the students from Mr. Terupt’s class come together to support each other and their teacher, or will this tragedy erase all of the good that happened this year?  Read Because of Mr. Terupt, a nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, to discover how much one teacher–and one life-changing incident–can make seven students reexamine themselves and what really matters to them.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  I totally related to several of the characters in this book, especially Danielle and Luke.  I couldn’t stand Alexia through most of the book, but I rejoiced when she turned everything around.  Jessica, Peter, Anna, and Jeffrey also stole little pieces of my heart.  All of these students became better people…and they did so with the help of one very special teacher.  Mr. Terupt, through his super-fun lessons and his ability to see what his students really needed, was a teacher who was able to reach his students in a way that no one ever had.

For more information on Because of Mr. Terupt and author Rob Buyea, visit