Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Picture Book: Dear Teacher by Amy Husband

Dear TeacherSummary of Dear Teacher
It is mid-August.  Michael, a student at Sunnybank Elementary School, has received a letter from his principal welcoming him to another school year and introducing his new teacher, Miss Brooks.  This note prompts Michael to begin a letter writing campaign to Miss Brooks, informing her of his summer exploits as a secret agent along with his dog Bruno.  The duo jet-set around the world, from Mount Everest to Egypt to the Amazon River.  They encounter pirates, find treasure, and ride motorcycles.  In each letter, he warns Miss Brooks he may not be back in time to start school, but assures her that he is dreadfully unhappy about missing his class and home work—especially in math.   On August 29, Michael receives a response from Miss Brooks, a wise and witty teacher.  She expresses her regret at his missing out on being soccer captain, the school trip to the zoo, and class swimming lessons.  The final note is a post card from Michael to his parents, hinting at his next adventure. 

Evaluation:
Dear Teacher (by Amy Husband) is a unique book.  It appears as a large “Top Secret” envelope that seals up.  All the letters and illustrations are viewed as you open up the book vertically (rather than the usual horizontal manner).  The letters are written in a variety of ways, such as typed on school letterhead, on a post card, and as a telegraph.  The majority of them, though, are in a handwriting font on notebook paper with quirky, child-like illustrations of Michael’s adventures.  The story (as told through the letters and pictures) is imaginative and entertaining.  I have seen my 10 year old son looking at the book every day since I brought it home!  While the story is positive and upbeat, the subtext reveals the fears and apprehensions that some students feel about school.  Children ages 7-10 will enjoy and benefit from reading Dear Teacher.

Teaching Opportunities:
·         Language Arts—Teach (or review) the parts of a personal letter vs. a business letter; compare them to the letters in the book
·         Writing—Write a letter informing someone of a real or an imagined experience
·         Geography—Locate on a map the places Michael visits
·         Social Studies—Research the places Michael visits
·         Literature—Analyze the characters;  discuss the difference between direct and indirect characterization;  brainstorm character qualities that describe Miss Brooks and Michael using their letters
·         Persuasion—Evaluate how Miss Brooks indirectly assures and persuades Michael to come the first day of school; learn about types of persuasion and/or write a persuasive letter/paragraph


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