When her beloved kindergarten teacher goes on maternity leave, Mabel gently guides the substitute to be a better teacher and finds a future career.
Her absent teacher’s influence is evident throughout, as Mabel continually uses the lessons Mrs. Ampersand has taught the class to cheer up her classmates, calm them down, give pointers to the new sub (Mrs. Windbag), and help shape behaviors. For example, when Albert starts making “mouth noises“ to mock the new teacher’s name, Mabel points out that he’s disappointing Mrs. Ampersand, who taught them “to be kind to every living thing.” And after patiently listening to Mrs. Windbag drone on about natural gas (!) for over an hour, Mabel asks to change the topic and teaches everyone about bats (spurring Albert to check all the bat books out of the library). Hunt’s brightly colored illustrations portray a diverse classroom of students and teachers (Mrs. Ampersand is black, while Mrs. Windbag is white, as Mabel appears to be as well). Though all the students exhibit great body language and expressive faces, Mabel is the only one with personality. The riffs on Mrs. Windbag’s name—and its insulting nature—may largely go over readers’ heads, but adults will chuckle when she pulls out her bagpipes and talks about a hot air balloon ride.
Amply demonstrates that kindergarten lays the foundation for life, both in the lessons learned and in the opportunities presented. (Picture book. 4-6)