My Teacher Is a Monster!: (No, I Am Not.)

illus. by Peter Brown. 40p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.ISBN 9780316070294.
K-Gr 2—With his signature retro-inspired, mixed-media illustrations, Brown's latest picture book explores a new facet of themes he's touched upon before: identity, perception, and acceptance. Bobby is a likable, if ever-so-slightly naughty, everykid. His big problem is Ms. Kirby, a giant reptilian creature with a mean overbite and a tendency to stomp and roar. She also happens to be Bobby's teacher. A carefree Saturday in the park is nearly ruined when Bobby runs into Ms. Kirby. Brown astutely captures that awkward moment when students encounter a teacher outside the context of the classroom. In a spread featuring Bobby on one end of a park bench and the hulking Ms. Kirby on the other, the gutter separates the two characters, emphasizing their physical and emotional distance. Over the course of the day, Bobby and his teacher learn that they share some interests. As the story progresses, Ms. Kirby incrementally loses her green hue, her massive snout, and her oversize limbs, slowly transforming into a regular human teacher. Besides the sweet message, the strength in this school story is the humor of Bobby's deadpan stare. Looking directly out from the pages with his wide eyes, Alfalfa-esque hairdo, and jug-handle ears, Bobby will win the hearts of readers with his rascally charm, if not the no-nonsense Ms. Kirby.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Bobby and his teacher (shown with monstrously green skin and sharp teeth) clash in class, but when they meet unexpectedly at the park, they begin to see each other differently--and Ms. Kirby looks decreasingly monstrous. Brown uses a cartoon-type format with panels and speech bubbles, and mixed media illustrations, in a story that students and teachers will enjoy equally.
From the cover, it is clear that Bobby and his teacher do not agree: "My Teacher Is a MONSTER!" says Bobby in a giant word balloon; Ms. Kirby replies, "No, I Am Not." It's true that she is much taller than tiny Bobby, her skin is monstrously green, and she has claws and sharp teeth and giant nostrils. They clash in class when Bobby sends a paper airplane flying, but when later they meet unexpectedly at the park, they begin to see each other differently. In a multi-page sequence of panels, the pair sits awkwardly together on a park bench, and they converse in word bubbles: "Ms. Kirby, it's REALLY strange seeing you outside of school." "I agree." After Bobby catches her blown-off hat for her, they find more things to do together, and gradually in each picture, Ms. Kirby looks decreasingly monstrous as her face becomes less green and animal-like. Bobby isn't perfect at the end, and Ms. Kirby reverts to a little of her scariness when Bobby disobeys, but child readers will understand the subtle shift in their relationship. Using thick paper and watercolor/gouache/India ink illustrations, Brown uses a cartoon-type format with panels and speech bubbles, varying the pace with full-page art, in a story that students and teachers will enjoy equally. susan dove lempke

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing