Sunday, September 9, 2007

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

On the first day of school, Miss Malarkey announces that by the end of the year students will read 1,000 books so Principal Wiggins will dye his hair purple and sleep overnight on the school roof. Miss Malarkey is indefatigable in her mission to get kids excited about reading as a goal in and of itself as well as part of the challenge of full school participation in the Everybody Reads in America program. One by one she turns the most reluctant readers into avid readers by finding a good match between the student's interests and a particular book. Except for one boy who is her greatest challenge. As the months roll by, she tries title after title to tempt him. Just like dominoes, the stalwart non-readers fall one after the other into the delightful books Miss Malarkey finds for each person. It's down to the wire, two days before the deadline, and she's still one reader and one book shy of the goal. You guessed it. She finds the one book that captures our hero in its grip keeping him up all night reading. As it turns out, he doesn't read the 1,000th book, but the 1,001st book. But seeing Principal Wiggins camping out on the school roof with his purple hair pales in comparison with what Miss Malarkey must feel by finally captivating her most reluctant reader. There's a lot to like in this book. Miss Malarkey represents good teachers everywhere who are looking for ways to help kids get excited about reading and learning. Kevin O'Mally's believable illustrations carry the story forward with action and speech bubbles. Judy Finchler tells this classic story of a determined teacher who finds just the right book for her book-hating student in a realistic and charming way. And the book that finally turned our hero into a reader? Well, it was the one that has aliens, race cars, jokes, chewing gum, hot sauce, cannonballs and even a pool! ISBN 978-0-8027-8084-3. Walker & Company.

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