cover image My Teacher's Secret Life

My Teacher's Secret Life

Stephen Krensky. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80271-3

Teachers seem so at home in the classroom that it's entirely possible that they eat dinner and sleep there as well. In this tongue-in-cheek expose, reminiscent of Judy Finch and Kevin O'Malley's Miss Malarkey Doesn't Live in Room 10, a boy imagines that his teacher, Mrs. Quirk, spends her off-hours eating cafeteria leftovers, doing calisthenics with gym teacher Miss Whistle and listening to librarian Mr. Peruse read stories. The narrator even explains a longstanding mystery: teachers ""keep pajamas and inflatable mattresses in their bottom left desk drawer, the one that locks with a key."" Krensky (Dinosaurs, Beware!) wittily constructs then deflates the narrator's hypothesis: after the young sleuth spies Mrs. Quirk at the mall and in the park, he concludes that she's leading a ""secret life. I just wonder when the other teachers will get suspicious."" Adinolfi (The Egyptian Polar Bear) provides fanciful, almost surreal artwork, with lollipop-shaped trees and flowers that echo Mrs. Quirk's round glasses. The illustrator favors curves and circles, with few hard angles, and paints in carnival-bright fuchsia, chartreuse, red-orange and bright blue. Such wacky art, while pleasing to the eye, works against the deadpan humor of the narrative. Ages 4-6. (Aug.)