Module 1: Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook
Garland, M. (2003). Miss Smith’s incredible storybook. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Miss Smith is no ordinary teacher and her incredible storybook is simply incredible. Zack expects his teacher to be boring but instead meets Miss Smith who tells amazing stories that come to life. One day Miss Smith is late and the incredible storybook gets out of hand.
What Did I Think?
This book is a great example of how a story can take the reader anywhere. While Zack expects a boring teacher he is surprised by an interesting teacher with an ability to bring the books to life. This idea is inspiring to teachers and librarians alike. The illustrations are colorful and engaging and the familiar characters, from Little Red Riding Hood to the Mad Hatter, will appeal to children and adults. Zack discovers that reading can be exciting and that is something that librarians dream all children will discover.
Publishers Weekly (June 9, 2003)
With her spiky red-orange hair, leather jacket and “The Clash” pin, “Miss Smith seemed very… different from Zack’s other teachers. But the day went along like every school day Zack could remember-until Miss Smith said, `It’s story time.’ ” The teacher opens a leather-bound volume with a filigree cover, and the pages begin to glow. As Miss Smith reads, fantasy characters appear and the classroom transforms into a pirate ship or a fairy-tale forest until the story is complete. One day, Miss Smith is late and the school principal picks up the magic tome. When a dragon emerges, he flees, and the giddy children pass the book around. Before long, familiar characters like the Three Bears, Headless Horseman, Cowardly Lion and Mad Hatter are on the loose, and Miss Smith has to get them under control. Garland (The Mouse Before Christmas) styles petite Miss Smith as a punk-rock throwback, but he doesn’t draw any connection between her distinctive looks and the storybook’s powers. Miss Smith seems like a wayward character from some other tale, and child character Zack barely registers on the plot. Likewise, visual icons like Alice and Bo Peep may be present, but without their attendant narratives, they lack substance. The author acknowledges classic children’s literature without igniting enthusiasm for it. Ages 5-11. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Horn Book (Spring 2004)
When Zack’s teacher, Miss Smith, reads from her magic storybook, the characters come to life. Left unsupervised, the kids read snippets from several tales at once, and the classroom is overrun with pirates and other fairy-tale fixtures. For a story ostensibly about the joys of reading, the slick, synthetic-looking images are awfully mirthless, and Zack doesn’t prove to be an engaging main character.
This book would be a great book to share with students as an introduction to the library and the world of books. Reading it to younger readers and having a discussion about how books can take you anywhere could help inspire them to discover new adventures. Creating some areas in the library where characters from the book are hidden would be fun to make them look like they have come to life as well. The book could be paired with several books with favorite characters and displayed for students to browse. Seeing familiar characters in a new way could also create interest in old favorites and newer spins on those favorites, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.