She Still Loves Books: Miss Brooks' Story Nook by Barbara Bottner
MISS BROOKS HAS STORY NOOK FIRST THING BEFORE SCHOOL, AND I DON'T LIKE TO MISS IT.
BUT WHENEVER I TAKE A SHORTCUT PAST BILLY TOOMEY'S HOUSE, HE GRABS MY HAT AND YELLS, "I'M GOING TO GET YOU, MISSY!"
But this morning it's raining and Missy makes it to Story Nook just in time. But before Miss Brooks. decked out in pirate hat and eyepatch, can start reading her seadog tale to the early birds, with a clap of thunder the lights go out!
Being a crackerjack librarian, Miss Brooks improvises instantly.
"IT'S TOO DARK TO READ. SO LET'S HUDDLE IN CLOSE AND MAKE UP OUR OWN TALES," SAID MISS BROOKS. "EVERYONE HAS A TALE TO TELL."
"I GOT NOTHING!" MISSY SAID.
With complaints from Plum, who prefers a kitty story, Violet, who wants ghost stories, and Wilbur, who demands there be aliens, Miss Brooks points out that all stories begin with an interesting character and a problem that requires action. Missy knows that kitties, ghosts, and even aliens can't solve her Billy Toomey problem, so she goes for broke.
"AN OGRE LIVES DOWN THE STREET FROM ME. SHE HAS A BUNCH OF WILD ANIMALS!"
Miss Brook draws out more details, and before she knows it, Missy is clearly skewering Billy Toomey. Her ogre is named Graciela, and she has scary pets in her basement--hyenas, lions, alligators, and a giant snake that escapes from its cage. Plum quails at this development and whispers that kittens would be nicer.
Miss Brooks points out that Missy needs to keep developing her plot. Glad to comply, Missy cheerfully has the giant snake slither into Billy's house and constrict him so tightly his eyes pop.
"WHY CAN'T THERE BE KITTENS?" WHIMPERED PLUM.
Missy ignores the interruptions, and goes on to have her lion dispatch Graciela the Ogre. The End, she thinks.
But there're no shortage of literary critics in that story circle.
"WHY WOULD YOU GET RID OF GRACIELA? SHE WASN'T BOTHERING ANYBODY!" SAID PLUM.
"SHE GETS ON HER SPACESHIP AND RETURNS TO HER PLANET..." OFFERED WILBUR. "THE GHOST PLANET...." ADDS VIOLET.
"I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THAT SNAKE," SAID MISS BROOKS.
Miss Brooks suggests that there are some loose ends dangling in Missy's plot. That snake is still loose, and presumably Billy Toomy survives to snatch her hat the next time she takes a shortcut to school. What Missy's story needs, she points out, is a satisfying ending, a resolution.
Barbara Bottner's newest tale, Miss Brooks' Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome) (Random House, 2014), is a satisfying sequel to her best-selling Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't) (see review here) continuing the account of Missy, the former book hater, who is now also a storyteller whose hat is strangely safe from Billy Toomey, thanks to her inspired conclusion just for Billy. Michael Emberley again does the artistic honors in clever and comic portrayals of the Bottner's "interesting" characters and plenty of snicker-provoking details that illustrate the twists and turns of Missy's story for kids to peruse.
"Characters come alive with distinct voices and appearances, and the twin plots flow smoothly, if purposively, to the requisite "happy ending," reports Kirkus Reviews.
And for special celebrations of reading and libraries, pair this one with Bonnie Becker's just published A Library Book for Bear (Bear and Mouse). for a whang-dang-doodle duo.