Thursday, May 10, 2018

Taking Pen In Hand.... A Letter to My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson

"Dear Teacher,

Whenever I had something to tell you, I tugged on your shirt and whispered in your ear. This time I am writing a letter.

I hope you remember me... I wore a bright yellow raincoat and a dark, stormy frown--because for me, school meant sitting still and listening, two things I wasn't much good at."

Her teacher probably does remember her.

She's one of those "exasperating" students, the one who blurts out odd stuff without raising her hand, gets lost on field trips, gets wet and dirty at recess, and with calculated silliness sabotages silent reading time, the one who loudly begs to take care of the class mice for the Thanksgiving holidays, where they become her cat's dinner instead.

But in her letter, the girl recalls the way her teacher seems to understand, calling her an intrepid explorer, enlisting her love for mud in digging the "first ever" second-grade garden, and getting her to enjoy reading with a book about a famous woman explorer who was "just like her." And by the end of the year the girl realizes how much she has learned and those things she will never forget.

Most of us grownups would like to write our old teachers a letter--the great ones, the good ones, the ones that did they best they could, and even the not-so-good ones--those who showed us the way to be (and the way not to be) along the way. Deborah Hopkinson's epistolary picture book, A Letter to My Teacher (Schwartz and Wade, 2017) takes us adults back to second grade and perhaps gives current primary students a little insight into what their teachers are trying to do to reach and teach all their students. Nancy Carpenter's illustrations are sensitive and low-key, matching the tone of the text. This is another fine book to read at the end of the year, along with Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (see review here). Says Kirkus Reviews, "A valuable lesson in empathy, internalized and paid forward."

Labels: ,