Mr. S

HarperCollins/­Katherine Tegen. Jun. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063003958.
PreS-Gr 1–On the first day of school, a class of 12 children notices a cup of coffee, some papers, and a sandwich sitting on the teacher’s desk—but no teacher. Without someone to conduct the class, half the kids are ready to run amok until a ruler suddenly falls off the desk onto the floor. Startled, the children decide that the “Mr. S” someone has written on the blackboard stands for the sandwich perched up front. Since they believe they’re being supervised by their unconventional teacher, the dozen immediately fall in line and go through their lessons by themselves, including art where they paint pictures of sandwiches, story time, and music where, of course, they sing about sandwiches. Watercolors, colored pencils, and ink are part of the vivid digital illustrations which vary in size and show plenty of movement as well as the children’s engaging facial expressions. The diverse, multi-ability class, including a boy using a wheelchair and a youngster with glasses, work as a team while they discuss and argue the probability of having a sandwich for a teacher. Observant readers will see that there’s a second dramatic story happening simultaneously in the parking lot just outside the window.
VERDICT Mysteries for young readers are few and far between and this one is fun and entertaining; it will elicit laughter and plenty of discussion.

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