GOOD LUCK, MRS. K.! by Louise Borden


Age Range: 5 - 10
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A third grader’s happy year is interrupted when her beloved teacher gets cancer. “Say it like this. . . KEMP-CHIN-SKI!” the exuberant Mrs. Kempczinski counsels her students on the first day of school, and Ann Zesterman takes the advice to heart, saying her teacher’s name over and over, as a litany. Ann loves everything about Mrs. Kempczinski, and under her enthusiastic tutelage the class learns “a zillion facts about planets and penguins, poems and worms.” One day, Mrs. Kempczinski isn’t at school, and Ann and the other children learn that she has cancer. This tender tale ends on a touching but upbeat note with Mrs. Kempczinski coming back for a visit and the news that she returns the following year. But in real life this fact-based story didn’t end so happily, and the book is dedicated to Mrs. K.’s memory. It’s an affecting homage and Borden (The Little Ships, 1997) tells it simply and straight up. Gustavson’s keen pictures have the expressiveness of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations, with people’s faces in warm flesh tones set off by a background of cool greens, grays, and blues; these scenes of a schoolroom in which learning and good hearts coexist subtly augment the book’s message. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82147-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999