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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Miss Brooks Love Books! (and I don't) Written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley. Knopf, Random House. 2010. $22.99 ages 5 and up

"All year long, Miss Brooks reads us books. Books about dragons and Pilgrims and presidents. Books about love and leprechauns. Groundhogs, even!
It's vexing."

You know about Miss Brooks as soon as you see her! She is bogged down with books, a beatific smile on her face and love in her heart. Our young protagonist seems unimpressed.

Miss Brooks is dauntless in her efforts to bring the joy of reading to her first graders. She has costumes that mimic the characters in her favorite books, and she has an answer for every query voiced by our narrator. She will not give up on finding the book that will reach even her most stubborn student. All year at school she does her best to excite and encourage book borrowing. Nothing impresses.

In May Miss Brooks focuses her attention on BOOK WEEK! She urges everyone to choose their most favorite story and wear a costume that helps them tell everyone else about it. Little Miss Mediocrity could care less. She is sure that she will 'never love a book the way you do.' The trick, it appears, is in finding the right book and librarians can be persistent, patient and painfully proud when dealing with resistance.

The kids share their favorites and are met with derisive comments...'too flowery, too furry, too clickety and too yippity." Miss Brooks is not defeated, and she sends home yet another bag of well-chosen books for sharing. A chance observation and a new interest emerges. You're in for a big surprise when you get a look at THE book!

Barbara Bottner knows her subject. Her descriptions are spot-on. If you have been in a library, or a classroom, you know this kid! They challenge and intrigue. They test and teach. They make finding the right book, after so much work, worth every minute!

What an impressive pairing of author and illustrator! Michael Emberley takes Barbara Bottner's text and brings it to glorious life. While there is no textual description of Miss Brooks, you cannot imagine her being anyone else. The illustration of her stuffing the bookbag to be taken home proves she is a believer in the power of story and the great joy of reading together when the day is done. As child and mother pore over the borrowed ones and finally find THE BOOK, you can see the delight on both faces as they snort! and give it their all.

Proof that libraries and LIBRARIANS make a difference...and isn't that what we want?

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