The titular letter reveals how a second-grade teacher effected positive changes in the life of a behaviorally challenged child.
“I hope you remember me.…I wore a bright yellow raincoat and a dark, stormy frown—because for me, school meant sitting still and listening, two things I wasn’t much good at.” Throughout the book, the nameless student—a small, pale-skinned girl with long, dark hair—exhibits behaviors that exasperate most adults and many children, too. She shouts out exuberant comments without waiting her turn; she attempts to derail read-aloud time with comical interruptions; she wanders from her class into potential danger on two field trips. The writer reminisces about how the teacher managed to avoid humiliating the girl and instead found ways to use the girl’s strengths, leading the child to the better academic and social skills that generally accompany improved self-esteem. From the cover art through the end pages, the artwork is fabulous. Skilled line drawings capture every emotion, while aesthetically appealing watercolor washes accentuate lead characters. Students are multiethnic, and the teacher has black, crinkly hair and light-brown skin. One humorous double-page spread keeps the teacher from inadvisable, total sainthood. Ironically, the number of sentences on each page and the gentle, subtle humor make this book most likely to appeal to adults and to children of the less-than-wiggly persuasion, but its empathetic message won’t be wasted on anyone.
A valuable lesson in empathy, internalized and paid forward. (Picture book. 4-8)