In this debut children’s picture book, American and Scottish teachers trade classes and find that the English language isn’t the same everywhere—and hilarious misunderstandings ensue.
Author Warmouth, a Seattle teacher who switched classrooms with a teacher in Edinburgh, Scotland, under a Fulbright exchange program, here presents two rhyming books in one. First, she tells the story of an American teacher, Miss Cue, who runs into unexpected problems when she takes over Miss Queue’s class in Scotland: “Let’s start out with spelling—so easy you’ll pass! / Please take out your notebooks and erasers dear class.” The students are mystified until one suggests that she means them to take out their “jotters and rubbers,” and Miss Cue is soon alarmed when they apparently misspell every word on the test; the illustration shows one pupil’s paper with words such as “colour,” “centre,” “practise” and “grey” crossed out and “corrected.” The cartoony art clarifies the situations throughout, and some mix-ups will make children snicker: “May I wash in the toilet?” Thomas asked with a twinkle. / ‘Heavens, no!’ Miss Cue squealed. ‘Toilets are only for tinkle!’ ” Adults, however, may squirm at the bathroom humor and, in spots, at the irregular rhythm and forced rhyme. But when the Scottish pupils take over, the rhyme snaps to attention: “The trunk is the boot, while a boot is a welly. / A wallet’s a purse and a TV’s a telly. / Now really, Miss Cue! Enough of this blether! / It’s time you learn Scottish. We’ll do it together!” The story then switches to Miss Queue’s class in Seattle—and the page numbers start over from 1. The reader, now armed with definitions from the first “book” (including the fact that diapers are called “nappies” in Scotland), can understand Miss Queue’s dilemmas. “John let loose a yawn and asked for a nappy. / The thought of him skipping the loo made Miss Queue quite unhappy! / Politely she said, ‘This school hasn’t a shower. / Please go to the toilet before messing your trousers.’ ” Again, her students come to the rescue: “Please just say bathroom—not toilet or loo.”
Younger elementary school students will enjoy this book’s mostly clever wordplay while broadening their worldview.