Monday, May 03, 2010

A Bibliophile Is Born! Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner

Miss Brooks is our librarian. She loves books.

I ask her Miss Brooks why she dresses up for reading circle.

"I want you to get as excited about books as I am," she says.

I think Miss Brooks gets a little TOO excited.

And I bet her costumes itch.

Miss Brooks is indeed your over-the-top librarian. With many be-bowed braids and gynormous boots at the end of her skinny, striped-stocking legs, she absolutely pulsates with passion for print. She has no compunctions about dressing as Babar, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, a Wild Thing, or a Runaway Bunny. She predictably plugs her product in every way she can. The kids love it!

All except Missy. Sensibly overall-clad, with a knit toboggan jammed down over her eyebrows, Missy is that kid in the reading circle who makes it all too clear that text is not her cup of tea. Missy doodles on a drawing pad through Miss Brooks' dramatics and yawns to herself as the others are roused to a reading frenzy by their librarian's promotions. Train books? "Too clickety." Cowboy stories? "Too yippity." Animal tales? "Too furry." Nature books? "Too flowery."

And then comes THE ASSIGNMENT. Miss Brooks announces that for Book Week everyone must present their favorite book, costumed as the main character. "Really show us why you LOVE IT," she beams. Now Mrs. Brooks is not just kooky. She's just plain vexing!

Missy appeals to her long-suffering mom. Mom suggests more books. "Too kissy. Too silly. TOO PINK!" Missy hates them all. Mom is exasperated.

"You're as stubborn as a wart!" she exclaims.

"WARTS? I want to read a story about WARTS"!

IS there a storybook character with warts?


Soon Mom and Missy are reading Shrek! and designing her ogre costume. Missy even comes up with a product promotion worthy of Miss Brooks--stick-on warts for everyone in the class. And a bibliophile is born!

Veteran author Barbara Bottner teams up with noted illustrator Michael Emberley in a real winner of a Book Week cliffhanger in her new Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010). With a memorable first-person narrator, rib-tickling illustrations, and a theme that there's a book out there for everyone, warts and all, this one definitely deserves a prominent place for reluctant readers on the Book Week shelf.

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