Book Title and Author(s): Miss Nelson is Missing! By Harry Allard and James Marshall
Introduction: This is a Mystery book for children ages 4-8.
Summary: This story is about Miss Nelson and her students. Miss Nelson is a soft-spoken and kind teacher. One day, her students are being disruptive as she is trying to read them a story. She notes that this will not do. The next day, the students are not greeted by Miss Nelson, but by a different woman. This woman wore a long black dress, had curly black hair, and a long pointy nose. The children are quick to note that she looks like a witch. This woman is named Miss Viola Swamp. She is very outspoken, mean, and rude to the students. She is the polar opposite of Miss Nelson. They ask Miss Swamp where Miss Nelson is, but she disregards it, saying that it does not matter where she is. The days go by and the students are very miserable with Miss Swamp as their new teacher. Eventually, they begin to think that something bad has happened to Miss Nelson. First, they go to her house and there is no one there and the blinds are down. The students quickly flee because they see Miss Swamp is around the corner by the house. Next they go to a Detective, Detective McSmogg, who believes that Miss Nelson has gone missing. The students wonder what happened to Miss Nelson. They think up crazy and zany scenarios that would explain her disappearance, like her getting eaten by sharks at an aquarium. Soon after, they become incredibly sad and defeated, thinking that Miss Nelson would never come back. They heard footsteps down the hall and feared for another day with Miss Viola Swamp. However, to their surprise, it was Miss Nelson! They asked her where she has been and she says that it is her secret. The kids are excited and no longer seem to be acting up in class. That night, Miss Nelson sings a song saying that she’ll never tell, and the readers see there is a black dress and wig in her closet. The book ends with Detective McSmogg now on the case to find Miss Viola Swamp who he now thinks has gone missing.
Favorite Part: My favorite part of the story had to have been the twist at the end. I remember reading this as a kid and absolutely being thrown off by its ending. It made me see the plot of the story in another light. It also made me want to re-read the story, connect the dots, and see if it all made sense.
Recommendation: I am torn about recommending this book. On one hand, I think children would enjoy reading/being read this story. However, I do feel that this teaches students a mixed lesson. Yes, it does caution against misbehaving. However it also shows students that you can get what you want, like Miss Nelson, by lying and mistreating those who have done wrong by you.