Daydreams on the first day of school lead to a happy ending thanks to a refreshingly responsive teacher.
Suppressing anxiety, Martin’s mind goes a mile a minute, associations flowing freely. The teacher’s pink cheeks make him think of Mum Mum, a thought that leads the young boy to recall her beloved smile—“as wide as the river.” Water is fertile territory for a range of precisely described images and emotions, communicated with aurally pleasing words subtly constructed as free verse. Recalling the time his mother had borrowed his language about lightning for her own poem, he ponders her explanation that poetry helps “you put things into words that are painful or / wonderful or that you just don’t understand. / …they’re like kisses, tiny little / nothings that mean so much!” When the teacher interrupts his reverie by asking if he’s on the moon and whom he’s blowing kisses to, a pebble from the river gives him the courage to share his thoughts. The teachable moment involves the class drawing kisses (x’s) on the board along with the first letter of their names, the first step towards friendship. Large, round heads, recurring moons and a parting circular view underscore Martin’s marvelous interior world, as do the cheerfully surreal scenes of raining flowers and a smiling sky.
No classroom clichés here. Rather, creativity and inspired teaching in full bloom. (Picture book. 4-7)