cover image The Teeny Tiny Teacher

The Teeny Tiny Teacher

Stephanie Calmenson. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-37123-0

Calmenson (The Principal's New Clothes) combines school and ghost story in this knock-off of the classic folktale. A diminutive teacher and her even more diminutive students find a mysterious bone and are subsequently haunted by a mysterious voice. Calmenson engages readers' attention through her use of repetition and the familiar setting (""She handed out the teeny tiny cups of juice and passed around teeny tiny cookies""). The pace builds to a climax when a ""teeny tiny voice"" from the closet grows increasingly louder (""Give me my bone!"") and the teacher puts a stop to it (""Take it!""). Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of school setting and scary theme seems jarring; the classroom is too cheery to be frightening. The real triumph is Roche's (Loo Loo, Boo and Art You Can Do) rendering of the teeny tiny world inside and outside of the classroom. His uncomplicated style and crayon-bright palette exude sunshine from the double-page spreads. Each gouache illustration brims with charming Lilliputian details: flowers loom above the minute schoolhouse, children play jump rope with a spool of thread, and Scrabble pieces form stepping stones, while inside children sit on dice and at desks made of dominoes. Though the themes may work at cross purposes, readers will likely take pleasure in the teeny tiny visual details. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)