Miss Brooks' Story Nook: (Where Tales are Told and Ogres are Welcome!)

illus. by Michael Emberley. 40p. Knopf. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780449813287; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780449813294; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780449813300.
K-Gr 2—When a power outage strikes during story time, the school librarian invites her students to create a tale. Due to conflicts of preference—ogres, snakes, kittens, or ghosts—the students create their own endings to the tale of Graciela the witch. The narrator, a charmingly disheveled young girl, decides to rev up the horror in her tale in order to intimidate the class bully. Emberley's cartoons detail imaginary reptiles and fearful children with equal panache. The story introduces some elements of fiction writing, such as plot, action, and endings. Elementary-aged readers will identify with the classroom dynamics.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Narrator Missy eagerly anticipates Miss Brooks's morning Story Nook time. One morning when the power goes out, Miss Brooks has the kids tell their own stories instead. Missy begins a story that also helps work through her bullying problem--"An ogre lives down the street from me..."--and her punchy narration offsets the pat resolution. Pleasingly detailed pencil-and-wash illustrations give the characters distinct personalities.
Since we last saw her in Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't) (rev. 5/10), narrator Missy has developed a newfound appreciation for books. She eagerly anticipates Miss Brooks's morning Story Nook time, though a neighborhood bully makes punctuality a daily challenge. One stormy morning when the power goes out, Miss Brooks decides to have the kids tell their own story instead, and Missy protests: "I mainly like to read stories...Not tell them." While the class bickers about what the story should be about, Miss Brooks suggests that a good way to start is with a problem that needs solving. Missy doubts that her bully problem can be solved through telling a story, but it doesn't take long before she begins: "An ogre lives down the street from me..." As she works through the particulars for her classmates and cogitates on the ending, she manages to both conclude her story and solve her real problem simultaneously. The pleasingly detailed pencil-and-wash illustrations--nicely varied in size and placement on the page--give the characters distinct, engaging personalities, while Missy's punchy narration offsets the overly pat resolution. julie roach

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