BooksForKidsBlog

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Hail and Farewell! Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan

A great sigh from Room 3 echoed down the halls of Mayflower Elementary.

Mrs. McBee had just told her class that she would not be returning after summer vacation.

Even the lunch ladies are upset, but Mrs. McBee's class is overwhelmed.

"You won't get to see me again!" said Jamaika.

"Nothing will ever be the same without you!" William said.

The idea that their teacher is going away hits the whole class hard. But Mrs. McBee doesn't make light of the situation. She gathers them all in a last circle.

"Children, this is what is called a bittersweet moment. It's like swirly ice cream--happy and sad mixed together."

Wisely, she pulls out her clipboard, passes out hardhats, and gets them busy clearing the room for its summer cleaning. The take-charge queen, Jamaika, directs the class in taking down posters and mobiles, packing up books, music instruments, supplies, and labeling each box. Everyone pitches in, all except one. William sits sadly alone in the thinking corner.

"William's not helping!" Jamaika complained.

"Give him some time, honey," said Mrs. McBee.

But William is not in evidence as the desks are duly emptied and the boxes are busily taped shut. The kids stop and look around the room. The stripped-bare room is all sad and empty, as if they had never been there. Their classroom is gone!

"I can't remember what it used to look like!" Jamaika cried.

But William makes a covert re-entrance as the custodian trundles in a large storage box labeled TO MRS. McBEE.

And inside the box is William, with some momentos that will help everyone remember their whole year together, in Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan's Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (Peachtree Publishers, 2017). This end-of-year story captures the "sweet sorrow" of saying farewell to a beloved teacher and to a unique time for all of them that will never come again.

All through our lives a school year with a certain teacher, beloved or not, is a powerful time-capsuled memory, and author McLellan sweetly catches the emotions of a happy-sad moment in childhood. With just a few deft lines she portrays the individuals in the class and the wisdom of their unusual and seasoned teacher. Artist Grace Zong individualizes Mrs. McBee's varied and engaging kids in endearing illustrations that perfectly set off the story of one of life's inevitable goodbyes. This charming picture book, with William's carefully crayoned drawings of their room, their class, and their year is perfect for last days or as a gift to a special teacher.

For preschoolers and Kindergartners, there is also Joseph Slate's great Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten.

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