Priscilla Gorilla

illus. by Michael Emberley. 40p. ebook available. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481458979.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 1—With the single-minded focus of a kindergartner with a new obsession, Priscilla eats, sleeps, and breathes gorillas. After receiving a most wondrous book called All About Gorillas, the girl informs her mother that she likes gorillas because "They always get their way." Her beleaguered teacher, Mr. Todd, does his best to deal with the onslaught of continuous gorilla art, interpretive dance moves, jungle calls, and perpetual costumes. Ultimately, his enthusiastic charge is invited to the "Thinking Corner." Priscilla informs her parents that the only thinking she does there is about how she doesn't like the "Thinking Corner." When her friends at school catch her wild animal bug and begin insisting on dressing up as their own favorite animals, Mr. Todd takes matters into his own hands and proposes a field trip to the zoo. Priscilla comes face-to-face with her hero, and everyone breaks into spontaneous gorilla dancing, including the suddenly uninhibited Mr. Todd. Emberley's delightfully wacky illustrations capture Bottner's colorful narrative. This author/illustrator duo do a dynamite job of portraying what all early education teachers should have the freedom and funding to do—follow and build on the interests of their students.
VERDICT An exceptional pairing of language and art. Its humor and fresh message give it wide appeal, and its positive depiction of a male teacher makes it a standout selection among stories about kindergarten classrooms.

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