of the Center for Children's Books
|The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line.
Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt
their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to
offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these
lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.
To Teachers, With Love
Once again it's September, and for the first time in twenty-some years I am not returning to a classroom. After years of schooling, then teaching, then more school, I find myself somewhat at a loss. This fall I have no freshly-sharpened pencils, no books to buy, no lessons to plan. In reflecting on the teachers I've had over the years and the teacher I myself have been, I realize that what stands out most are the relationships I developed with my teachers and my students over the years. When teachers believe that their students are special, communicate this to them daily, and help them find the internal motivation to grow and learn, powerful positive connections are forged and miraculous things can happen. This list is in honor of those special teachers and for the students who desperately need them.
--Jeannette Hulick, Editorial Assistant
Mrs. Kempczinski is an enthusiastic and creative teacher, and her third-grade students miss her when she is hospitalized mid-year with cancer, though she does manage to return at the end of the year to "check up on [their] third-grade style." Heavy, angular watercolor illustrations depict students and teacher with energy and emotion. (BCCB 6/99)
Trapped between her two perfect sisters, middle child "Ant" (Antonia) MacPherson feels ignored and unloved. She has trouble trusting anyone except her best friend, Harrison, and her pet chihuahua, Pistachio, until art teacher Carol Samberson comes along and singles Ant and Harrison out to help her with her volunteer work at the local zoo. Smart and sharply-written, this story is both funny and poignant. (BCCB 7/01)
Fifth-grader Nick invents a new word for "pen" after his sharp-as-a-tack language arts teacher Miss Granger explains how continued usage of a word can cause it to be added to the dictionary. This is a good one for provoking thoughtful classroom discussion about language in action. (BCCB 10/96)
Young Matilda's incredible intelligence and amazing powers enable her to help kind and gentle first-grade teacher, Miss Honey, who (like everyone in the school) is squashed under the thumb of evil principal Miss Trunchbull. Quentin Blake's cartoonish pen-and- ink drawings are a good match to the "over-the-top" tone of Dahl's text. (BCCB 10/88)
Thirteen-year-old Marcy hates her life (she's overweight, shy, and her father is a verbally abusive tyrant) until English teacher Ms. Finney inspires her and her classmates to love learning and to like themselves and each other in this "oldie-but- goodie." (BCCB 1/75)
Lilly's teacher, Mr. Slinger, is a wonder--she wants to be just like him when she grows up, as do all her rodent classmates. Lilly's adoration turns to anger when Mr. Slinger takes away her new purse (she is disrupting the class with it), but she later feels remorse and is relieved to find that the understanding Mr. Slinger still likes her after all. As always, Henkes' mouse characters are endearingly drawn and delightfully detailed with humorous, individual touches. (BCCB 10/96)
Fifteen-year-old Mary falls in love with her homeroom teacher, Mr. Flickett. He also feels affectionate towards Mary but he gently persuades her that they should not act on their impulses, a decision that Mary initially finds painful but ultimately realizes is right. Quiet and touching, this will provide food for thought for readers with teacher crushes of their own. (BCCB 4/85)
A girl named Fred (Frederika) describes the year (shortly after WWII) that the English Miss Agnes comes to teach the children of this small Athabascan fishing village in rural Alaska. Through her inspired teaching, Miss Agnes gradually expands the world for Fred, her peers, and her community and decides, as no teacher before has done, to stay a second year. Hill's evocation of a particular place and time is specific and accessible to young readers. (BCCB 11/00)
Great-Aunt Arizona grows up in the Blue Ridge Mountains where she goes to a one- room school, studies to become a teacher, and teaches for fifty-seven years, inspiring her students to dream of traveling to faraway places and providing them with a seemingly endless supply of hugs. A vibrant Arizona with braids and high-button shoes is shown living and working against a verdant landscape in these bright, folksy illustrations. (BCCB 4/92)
When her beloved fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Simpson, is replaced by Mr. Garrett, Ellie is against him from the start, finding him "unfair and mean." Eventually, however, she is won over by his fair and sensitive treatment of the students (especially after the death of the class rabbit) in this fresh and genuine middle-grade novel. (BCCB 11/91)
Twelve-year-old Sarny is a slave (soon to be put to work as a "breeder" by her cruel owner) who risks punishment in order to learn to read. "Nightjohn" is the former slave who returns to teach her and others, even though it means dismemberment if he's caught. The unadorned language, brevity, and intense subject matter will appeal to older reluctant readers. (BCCB 2/93)
Convinced she is just "dumb," fifth-grader Trisha has endured years of humiliation about her inability to read until her new teacher, Mr. Falker, discovers the extent of her difficulty and helps her to finally learn. Polacco's watercolor illustrations of Trisha's range of feelings as she struggles and succeeds with reading are particularly effective in this autobiographical title. (BCCB 6/98)
And one to pass around in the teachers' lounge:
Twenty-four-year-old Esmé is sassy, enthusiastic, stubborn, and determined to motivate her inner city public school fifth-graders and provide them with a good education no matter what obstacles stand in the way. This real-life diary is frank, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking as "Madame Esmé" (as she's called by her students) documents her day-to-day experiences with her pupils, their parents, and a less-than- supportive administration.
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This page was last updated on September 1, 2001.