NOT ME by Stanley Williams

NOT ME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A moral tale about taking responsibility for one’s actions, Not Me is a picture book geared toward elementary students who need an object lesson.

Mr. Wilson would love his teaching job even more if his students held themselves to a higher ethical standard. In his class, unknown culprits consume candy intended for a math lesson, transform assignments into paper airplanes and finger-paint on computers. There’s ample evidence linking the students to the crimes, but when asked who’s responsible for the mischief, each claims “Not me.” Mr. Wilson calls the principal, Mr. LeSuave, to help save him from the monster Not Me. He hands in his keys, bids his students farewell and says that he’s going off to live in the woods. The substitute teacher, Mr. Sternbladder, has bad breath, beady eyes and a harsh disciplinary style that makes his students yearn for Mr. Wilson. They run to their principal and confess to all their misdeeds, begging for their teacher to return. Swayed by their repentance, Mr. LeSuave agrees to go search the countryside. In a fun plot twist, the reader realizes that Mr. Wilson was not as desperate to abandon his post as he led his students to believe. Relaxed by his sabbatical, he’s ready to return to class post-haste. What the story lacks in subtlety and artful telling, it makes up for in narrative single-mindedness. From the opening line to the barrage of mischievous behavior to the surprise ending, the story is relentless in fulfilling its educational intent. The simplistic illustrations, which clearly depict each wrongdoing in Mr. Wilson’s multicultural class, have a literal quality reminiscent of the way an elementary student might illustrate the story. While neither an artistic nor literary landmark, the book succeeds in teaching a lesson about the importance of personal responsibility.

A didactic, moralistic tale for elementary students, with a lighthearted touch.

ISBN: 978-1-4241-9577-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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