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Monday, November 3, 2014

Miss Brooks' Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome!) Written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley. Alfred A Knopf, Random House. 2014. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"It's too dark to read.
So, let's huddle in close
and make up our own 
tales," said Miss Brooks.
"I mainly like to read
stories," I said. "Not tell
"Good readers make
wonderful storytellers,"
said Miss Brooks."

I trust that you know Miss Brooks. She shares your passion for, and interest in story books. She strives to share that passion with each one of her students. In a previous book (Miss Brooks Love Books) she infuses that love with a little girl who is quite sure that she has no interest in such pursuits.

In this companion book, Miss Brooks faces a different challenge with just as much energy and encouragement as she did that first time. Everyone is ready for a story when the lights go out and her students cannot see the book she is reading. A power outage doesn't stop her! It simply changes her course. When there is no story to see, the learning turns to the age-old art of telling tales. You don't need a light for that!

Acting as a guide, she suggests that the children close their eyes and give way to a wandering mind. Surely, that will encourage a sharing of invented tales. Missy has nothing. Miss Brooks suggests a problem, an interesting character, action and a continuing a 'satisfying ending.' At each of her suggestions, Missy spins a story that keeps her classmates intrigued, sharing opinions and asking questions. Story Nook ends when the power comes back on, leaving Missy with a dilemma. She needs an ending to her tale of ogres, snakes, and wild animals.

By morning, she has an idea...and uses it to tame Billy Toomey, her neighborhood nemesis. It's very 'satisfying'!

Michael Emberley describes his illustrations as 'drawn with pencil, scanned, then printed onto Arches 90 lb. hot press watercolor paper using waterproof ink, then painted with tube watercolors'. However he does it, he creates a zany and appealing cast of characters and backgrounds that are sure to grab a reader's attention and hold them in their thrall as they learn the joys of storytelling in the best possible way! The expressions are wondrous, and the numerous spot pictures carry the story with all the details that are sure to make it a favorite at story time and for a family read. Then, wait for your listeners to start some storytelling of their own!


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