Books by Judy Finchler

CONGRATULATIONS, MISS MALARKEY!  by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

"Miss Malarkey has been acting really strange lately." She sings to herself as she walks down the hall, she and her teacher friends giggle together, the words "quitting teaching" have been whispered and she inflicts an incredibly boring unit on weddings on the whole class in World Cultures: "Yuck!" Readers will tumble to the answer long before Miss Malarkey hands out invitations to her wedding, finally enlightening her students, but they'll also recognize the children's anxiety at the unsettling change in their beloved teacher. While the climax is decidedly anticlimactic—she returns after her honeymoon and tells the narrator to call her "Mrs. Malarkey"—the emotional journey of the children is both very real and rarely seen in books for this age. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MISS MALARKEY LEAVES NO READER BEHIND by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2006

Miss Malarkey, school librarian, has set a goal to have the school read 1,000 books before the end of the school year, and to find a book for each and every student to love. The principal will dye his hair purple and sleep on the roof if they succeed, so the effort is worth it, even when it means getting a crew of video-game aficionados to stick their nose in a book, including the narrator: "I hate reading. . . . I like video games, and so do my friends." It's not that he is predisposed to disliking books. He tries the scary books and the joke books and the adventure books Miss Malarkey gives him, but they are as sand to his eyes. He's just honest. But Miss Malarkey is industrious and full of ideas—amply depicted by O'Malley's warmly emotive artwork, which videophiles will relate to. She finally brings home the bacon with a title that is the narrator's to know and readers to find out (though Finchler lends a hand with solid lists of titles, including one about finding books to love). (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MISS MALARKEY’S FIELD TRIP by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 15, 2004

Fledgling teacher Miss Malarkey's real education continues in another spot-on slice of school life. Here, she leads her first field trip—to a "hands-on" science center where one child immediately gets his arm caught in a giant ear, another tries to bury a third at the "Dig Your Own" dino exhibit, others wander unchecked by oblivious chaperones into the gift shop or through an "Authorized Personnel Only" door, and similar minor but stress-inducing mishaps. O'Malley chronicles it all in bright, good-humored scenes unencumbered by extraneous background detail, and the trip turns out to be more or less fun for all—including the frazzled teacher, who finds a care package from fellow educators on her desk in a heartwarming final scene. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
YOU’RE A GOOD SPORT, MISS MALARKEY by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Another installment in this ongoing author and illustrator collaboration (Testing Miss Malarkey, 2000, etc.) explores Miss Malarkey's sojourn as the new soccer coach. Proving anything can be tamed with beneficent intentions and a good instruction book, Miss Malarkey successfully cajoles the youngsters and their parents into a truly polite soccer league. There are a lot of very recognizable characters afoot, young and old, and O'Malley's cartoon-like drawings bring them into sharp focus. There's the kid who stands on the field and doesn't move, and then there is the phalanx of overbearing parents, who yell, scream, criticize, and pull their hair out. Miss Malarkey overrules them all. In the end though, will the humor here appeal more to soccer moms than to young soccer aspirants? Even if it were more interesting to them than a penalty kick, would it only pander to the young sardonic personality and fertilize little development? The message is to be a good sport so perhaps there will be thousands of soccer kids sitting their folks down and reading this lesson to them as a bedtime story. It couldn't hurt. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
TESTING MISS MALARKEY by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

Finding humor in standardized testing is no easy task, but the creators of Miss Malarkey and crew know just where to look. It's the test that doesn't matter—"it wouldn't affect our report cards. It wouldn't mean extra homework"—but it sure has the teachers and the administration in an ill-concealed swivet. Miss Malarkey returns to chew her nails over the yearly standardized test. Her story chronicles the nervous antics of the school staff as they prepare for the two-day test. Students play the multiplication mambo at recess and funny phonics at lunch, which no longer feature potato chips but rather fish, the well-known brain food. No, the test doesn't matter, but the gym teacher is teaching stress management through yoga and even the young narrator's mother requires him to summarize his bedtime story. Then the tests arrive—they have an aura that hovers somewhere between a Draconian and religious relict in Finchler's wry characterization—and are served to the students. Everybody relaxes once the tests are over, particularly so since Miss Malarkey's school places first in the state. Finchler (Miss Malarkey Won't Be in Today, 1998, etc.) conveys the hubbub surrounding the "test of no import" with dash and humor, while O'Malley's drawings of the hang-dog teachers work just right for the fraught atmosphere. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
MISS MALARKEY WON'T BE IN TODAY by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

A worthy sequel to Finchler and O'Malley's Miss Malarkey Doesn't Live in Room 10 (1995). Visions of classroom catastrophes dance in Miss Malarkey's brain when a fever forces her to miss a day of school. Who will Principal Wiggins assign as her substitute? The ferocious Mr. Doberman, whose instructional techniques include intimidation and rigid discipline? Or will it be timorous Mr. Lemonjello, whose nervous twitch and hesitant manner make him an easy target for mischievous pupils? Convinced of impending disaster, she leaps from her sickbed to check on her students and finds a pleasant surprise waiting for her. O'Malley's artwork, filled with humor and strong on facial expressions, conveys all the anxiety a teacher can muster as she speculates about her absence and its consequences. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
MISS MALARKEY DOESN'T LIVE IN ROOM 10 by Judy Finchler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 4, 1995

As the narrator knows (the rest of the world has been misinformed), teachers don't go home after school, but spend their lives sleeping in the classroom, roaming the corridors, and taking meals in the lunchroom. So the narrator is justifiably confused when Miss Malarkey moves into his apartment building. Newcomer Finchler never swerves from her basic premise that kids are always right. The boy's logic is sacrosanct: From the mystery of the Teachers' Lounge he extrapolates a room where naughty, pajama-clad teachers litter the floors and frolic on disheveled bunk beds. Older children may be too full of information to the contrary to enjoy the idea; for younger readers it should hit home. Occasionally Finchler changes her matter-of-fact tone and winks at readers, which breaks the spell. On the whole, though, the spare language and bright, expressive pictures make it a rewarding read. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >