cover image Apple Island or Truth about

Apple Island or Truth about

Douglas Evans. Front Street, $17.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-886910-25-6

A teacher for many years, Evans (The Door at the End of the Hall) presents a whimsical, absurdity-charged satire. Bradley is stuck with one nightmare of a teacher, Mrs. Gross (""The chinless face, the squinty eyes, and a thick lower lip pushed out in a permanent scowl reminded [Bradley] of an overripe apple""). If readers don't get the picture from the descriptions, Di Fiori's hyperbolic line drawings leave no doubt that Mrs. Gross is wickedly off-putting, right down to the hairs on her chinny chin chin. Bradley realizes her thinking is a bit askew when she instructs her students that there's no need to put ""the dumb b at the end of climb"" and shows them a map of the U.S. containing 70 states. The nine-year-old then learns that he and his classmates are victims of Operation Misteach, a plot hatched on Apple Island, where Mrs. Gross lives with the rest of the world's crabbiest teachers. On a field trip there, Bradley separates from the group and encounters amusingly eccentric individuals who reveal the history of this outlandish land where lunch boxes sprout from the ground, boulders are made of chalk and paper grows on trees alongside an ink lake. Evans's imagery and wordplay are occasionally strained or redundant, but he compensates with many wry tidbits. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)