Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Teacher's Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi


K - Gr. 3 From the cover, readers get a sense that all is not as idyllic as the teacher’s face suggests. The children wear concerned expressions and there are large bites missing from furniture and a math book. What is going on? Rissi’s story of a class science project seems ordinary enough, until we notice that Bruno the tadpole looks a lot like a hippopotamus. Suddenly the problem becomes clear. “Everyone could see that Bruno was trouble. Everyone except Mr. Stricter.” Ohora’s acrylic  illustrations work seamlessly with the text to juxtapose the teacher’s blind adoration of his pet with the students’ increasing alarm. “Bruno wouldn’t hurt a ---” Mr. Stricter is saying, and readers turn the page to see a single sneaker dangling from Bruno’s mouth and a large mustard yellow "GULP!" appears over Bruno’s head. Obviously the class was not overreacting when they said Bruno was trouble, but how will they get their teacher back? Fans of stories like Steven Kellogg’s The Mysterious Tadpole or Mike Thaler’s A Hippopotamus Ate the Teacher will appreciate the saga of a beloved small pet growing out of control. Readers will feel the growing frustration of the class as the teacher dismisses all their concerns about Bruno and says, “Isn’t he adorable?” And those who enjoy some gross humor will love the result of Bruno’s sneeze. VERDICT: Highly recommended. Perfect for classroom read-alouds and lessons on problem-solving or pets.

My review of this books was originally printed in the August 2017 issue of School Library Journal, pp. 63-64.

Rissi, Anica Mrose. The Teacher's Pet. illus. by Zachariah OHora. 40p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484743645.

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