cover image Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories

Mary Amato. Holiday House, $16.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3553-1

The title of this entertaining novel belies the truths it reveals as Amato (the Good Crooks series) blends fiction written by an elementary-school class, comments and banter they share in a blank book, and real-life issues they confront. Misinterpreting Mrs. Penrose's reference to a secret she's keeping, Alexander is certain that his teacher is a vampire, and he solicits his classmates' help in writing a story about her. After Mrs. Penrose reveals that she's actually pregnant, she suggests that her students collaborate on another story. As the kids use the blank book to share ideas, a spirited and sometimes contentious conversation unfolds, revealing several big, distinct personalities, including fastidious Omar, wisecracking Nick, and silent newcomer Harrison, who finds his voice on the page (various fonts represent the different children chiming in). After the dangerously premature birth of Mrs. Penrose's son, the kids swap competitiveness for cooperation and create a story for Mrs. Penrose's baby. Readers will appreciate how the characters' writing improves as they discover the rewards of collaboration and acceptance, as well as the healing power of the written word. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)