When I was a kid I remember LOoOoOving The Poky Little Puppy. I don’t know if it was the puppies or the rice pudding or the strawberry shortcake or what, but I thought it was nearly perfect.
Then I grew up and re-read The Poky Little Puppy. Suffice it to say, it was a rude awakening. First, it feels like an eternity to read. And second, several parts of the story don’t match the illustrations and raise questions each and every time, “Where’s the spider? Why’s the brown hop toad a green frog?” But the primary challenge with this book is the message. Are you supposed to feel sorry for the poky puppy or is it more of a “serves you right” admonishment? Maybe we’re supposed to institute a rule that there will be no desserts EVER if our kids dig holes under fences? It definitely has had zero impact on making our poky little puppy (the little one) any less poky… I’m pleased to report that we’ve “lost” our copy of this book in some out of reach cupboard.
So, when I received a recommendation for Miss Nelson is Missing, I was a little wary. I also remember liking this one from my childhood, but who can be sure? Maybe it just had some reference to chocolate custard that clouded my judgement.
In a nutshell: Miss Nelson is a teacher with a super bad class of rude spitball throwing kids. She decides to teach them a lesson by dressing-up as a substitute teacher witch and putting them through elementary school boot camp. The kids finally recognize what they’ve been missing and want their old, sweet teacher back. Just when they can’t take anymore, pretty Miss Nelson miraculously shows back up at school— her chin has been reduced by 400% and her nose is small and perky again.
Overall, Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall is not a case of the Poky Little Puppy. It’s got a good message, with just enough of a veiled threat to get the point across. I would like to see a sequel where Miss Viola Swamp shows-up as a substitute Mom. Preferably with illustrations of children that aren’t getting their pajamas on in a timely manner. Maybe elves are not the answer… next year’s Christmas sensation: The Witch on the Shelf.
Families can talk about: What is rude behavior? How should we act in class and at home to demonstrate respect? Do you think the kids learned their lesson? Was it really Miss Nelson or did she go out on leave for a little nip and tuck?
Photo courtesy of Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall.