Every so often I end up with a new-to-me book, and I picked up this one last year, bless Scholastic. (You know how you have life-long learners? If you’re an elementary teacher, Scholastic’s nailed you as a life-long buyer–with a time out along the way during high school and college.)
Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland is vivid with an imaginative premise: Zach’s new teacher can read characters out of books and into the classroom.
But I’m not reading this book for me. I’m reading it to my kindergartners, and for them, it was a heady idea. Characters can leave their books? Really?
Not to mention, it’s a great introduction to what characters actually are–which is part of California’s state curriculum for kindergarten. And the discussion that ensues when you ask which characters they’d like to jump out of a book is enlightening.
Needless to say, my class this year loved it and already asking to hear it again. Its charm is due to the mix of concept and exciting illustrations. There’s a lot to see on each page, and Miss Smith is not your typical teacher–not with spiky red-orange hair, a leather jacket and high-top sneakers, and a button for The Clash. Once the characters appear, the page visually explodes, along with them. And not only are Michael Garland’s illustrations bright, the level of detail in each is high, and attentive kids will be searching the backgrounds for items of interest.
One activity would be to read Each Peach Pear Plum by by Janet and Allen Ahlberg and make a Venn diagram of the characters that appear in each book, searching for the characters that intersect.
This one’s definitely worth a purchase and a reread–or even many rereads if you’re a parent. Not only that, the author’s got two more books out in the series, which I’ve just ordered: Miss Smith Reads Again! and Miss Smith and the Haunted Library.