cover image I Remember Miss Perry

I Remember Miss Perry

Pat Brisson, , illus. by Stéphane Jorisch. . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2981-0

Brisson (Mama Loves Me from Away ) sensitively explores the effects of an elementary teacher's unexpected death and the inspirational legacy she leaves her young students. Stevie, a boy in Miss Perry's room, narrates his recollections of the fun-loving teacher who "smiled until her eyes disappeared." On his first day, she told him, "It is my fondest wish that you join me for lunch today, Stevie." He soon discovers that she "had a new fondest wish every day." Softly hued pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations depict the cheerful, youthful instructor having fun with her students as they prepare to plant daffodils around the flagpole or serenade the principal ("It is my fondest wish that we buzz down to her office and sing her the birthday song," Miss Perry says). In a scene that could serve as a model for similar situations, Brisson depicts the thoughtful way the principal and guidance counselor break the news to the students when a car accident suddenly ends Miss Perry's life. The students share their memories of her, and also imagine what Miss Perry's fondest wish would be now ("For us to not be too sad"). Jorisch's (Suki's Kimono ) artwork keeps the poignant tale from becoming maudlin. Sunny colors and realistic situations touched with whimsy maintains an upbeat tone (e.g., a spread depicting the children's reminiscences features playful vignettes of bees and flowers with smiling faces). Brisson's tenderhearted tale offers a welcome opening for discussion of a difficult subject. Ages 4-up. (May)