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

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

Peter Brown. Little, Brown, $18 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-07029-4

Context is key in this revelatory tale from Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild), dedicated “to misunderstood teachers and their misunderstood students.” Bobby and his teacher are at odds, and it’s easy to see why: “Ms. Kirby stomped. Ms. Kirby roared.” Ms. Kirby—who disapproves of Bobby’s paper airplanes in class—looks like a furious komodo dragon, with her brown-speckled green skin, toothy underbite, and pointy claws. One Saturday at the park, the two accidentally meet. When a gusty wind nearly tosses Ms. Kirby’s hat in a lake, Bobby saves the day, and Ms. Kirby rejoices. As they awkwardly chat, Ms. Kirby’s fearsome features gradually transition from reptilian to human. Bobby relaxes too, and the thing that tore them asunder—the paper airplane—proves perfectly appropriate for fun at the park. Brown, imagining Ms. Kirby from a child’s perspective, handles her transformation smoothly, prompting readers to revisit earlier pages. Comic traces of monstrosity linger in Ms. Kirby (she still goes green at classroom clowning) yet Brown makes it clear that teachers are people too—even the “mean” ones. Ages 4–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (July)