Teacher Trade!

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.

Pub Date: June 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479210459

Page Count: 66

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Kenya


Roman (If You Were Me and Lived In…Norway, 2013, etc.) offers a children’s primer of the geography, sports, food and vocabulary that Kenyan kids encounter in their daily lives.

The latest installment in this cultural series—preceded by books on Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway—takes young readers to the African nation of Kenya, where they get a short, engaging lesson on the country’s culture. The opening phrase “If you were me…” helps kids imagine a narrator not much different from themselves. Their Kenyan counterpart lives with their parents (“If you needed your mommy, you would call for Mzazi. When you are speaking to your daddy, you would call him Baba”), buys milk from the market and pays for it “with a shilling,” eats snacks (“samosa, a small triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried in oil”) and goes to school. The book covers Mombasa Carnival, a large yearly festival, and discusses its importance. It also explains the basics of cricket, a popular sport in Kenya, and the fact that kids usually entertain themselves with handmade toys. Roman’s books are successful since she draws connections between cultures while maintaining a tone that keeps young readers engaged. Colorful illustrations further enhance the text, such as one showing kids playing with cricket bats. A glossary at the end offers a pronunciation key for the unfamiliar words throughout. This series of books would be a natural fit in school classrooms and would also provide a good way for parents to teach their own kids about the cultures, languages and geography of different countries. This installment is a quick read that may help kids see the similarities between themselves and their Kenyan peers.

An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481979917

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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