In this cautionary tale that combines humor and a touch of magic, good behavior is the lesson of the day when a particularly naughty class of students has a substitute teacher.
The seven-tentacled, green substitute teacher, Mr. Creacher speaks in rhyme and glares from his single eye (in front that is; he's got three in back). He regales the class with tales of children who failed to behave in school and the fates that befell them. There’s Keith, the glue-eater who stuck to all he touched, Zach, the daydreamer who accidentally ate the class pet, and Kylie, the artist, whose drawing came to life and ravaged the classroom. Then, Beauty and the Beast–like, Mr. Creacher reveals that he himself was a naughty child, put under a spell and sentenced to teach children about their wicked ways. It works—the children promise to reform, and with his debt now repaid, Mr. Creacher can return to his own childhood a changed boy. Gall’s illustrations use speech bubbles that drip with green slime and graphic-novel elements to great effect, creating artwork that pops off the pages and appears almost three-dimensional. Touches of humor take the edge off some of the more frightening scenes.
Great for both Halloween and the start of a new school year, this is certain to provide more than a few laughs to kids who have seen through Viola Swamp’s disguise. (Picture book. 6-10)