Mice reward the nice in ‘The Very Best Teacher!’

Wrapping is for ripping.

Ribbons are for untying, and boxes are for dumping out and climbing in. And why not? You can do that when it’s your birthday or Christmas or your favorite holiday and you get all kinds of gifts. But what do you give to somebody you love? In “The Very Best Teacher!” by Ye Shil Kim, illustrated by Miku Moriuchi, you’ll see how 10 little mice solve that problem.

The mice-children in Ms. Tulip’s class loved their teacher. She was, they agreed, the best teacher ever, and so, when Playful Mouse overheard one day that Ms. Tulip’s birthday was coming up, everyone got excited. A surprise birthday party for Ms. Tulip would take lots of planning, but wouldn’t it be nice?

Ten little mice had a meeting on the playground. When you’re having a party for the best teacher ever, what would you include? What kinds of things make the best party?

Happy Mouse suggested cake. Don’t forget the candles!

Cheerful Mouse wanted to sing a song. She even sang her idea, loud and clear.

Funny Mouse thought presents were important. That’s what they could do for Ms. Tulip: they could give her a gift. What’s a birthday party without gifts? But what kind of gift would the mice students give her?

Happy Mouse thought food would be good. He loved to eat.

Cheerful Mouse thought a poem was nice. She didn’t sing that time, which was good.

What would Ms. Tulip like? Funny Mouse thought a new dress would be a nice present, while Star Mouse liked the idea of wrapping up a star. A robot was Silly Mouse’s idea, but the best suggestion came from Dizzy Mouse: “We could write Ms. Tulip a letter.”

Frisky Mouse thought that was a splendid idea! If each of the mice wrote something surprising and special for their very best teacher, then Ms. Tulip would know how much she meant to each of her little students.

And at the end of the day, when the surprise was sprung and the cake was eaten, the very best teacher knew that she had something “best,” too.

Right now, there’s one question scratching at your mind and you hope you know the answer: will your child like his new teacher? You might not have the solution to that yet, but you can set the tone for a positive outcome with “The Very Best Teacher!”

With the simplest of plots and artwork to match, the author and illustrator offer a light element of suspense for kids who love surprises. That’s sweet, but parents may also appreciate the subtle lesson of giving, and the obvious affection the mice children have for their teacher — both of which send good messages for kids fretting over those first days of school and what’s to come.

I would say this is a great book for Pre-K kids and kindergarteners mostly, but new first-graders will like it, too. Find “The Very Best Teacher!”, keep it around, and watch your child rip into it.

— View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.



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