Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favorite Series Week - Miss Smith Reads Again! by Michael Garland

Copyright © 2006 by Michael Garland

Zach is a student in 2nd grade. Miss Smith, his teacher, possesses a book that contains classic stories. Miss Smith is no ordinary teacher and this is no ordinary book – it is an "Incredible Storybook." Once Miss Smith begins to read, the characters come to life and the class is transported into the story.  In this, the second book in  the Miss Smith Series, Miss Smith opens her book to read from the The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Miss Smith cautions the class against interfering with the characters because it will cause a change in the story that will prevent it from properly ending.  "The story has to end-otherwise it won't go back into the book." As Miss Smith reads, the Amazon jungle begins to appear in the classroom. The class crosses a fallen tree that connects the outside world of their classroom to the Lost World of the book. And so the adventure begins.
The inconspicuous class, peering from behind bushes, observes two men from the story, Professor Challenger and Professor Summerlee arguing. Unbeknownst to the two characters, a T. Rex is creeping up behind them. Zach notices it and before Miss Smith can prevent him, Zach shouts out a warning to the two men, who take heed and flee.
Zach is very knowledgeable about dinosaurs, so he is able to help his class evade them. Once the danger passes, everyone is accounted for, except for Miss Smith.  They search for her by following  her footprints and eventually hear her distress call from high above them: she has been snatched by a pterodactyl and placed inside its nest. Zach has an idea to free her. He and the class gather branches and make a huge commotion, frightening the flying dinosaur away long enough for Miss Smith to escape.
Once free, Miss Smith finishes reading The Lost World and the class finds itself safely back in school.  It is then that  Zach presents a pterodactyl egg he has improperly taken from the Lost World.  Miss Smith stares at the egg with her mouth agape, and then the egg begins to hatch . . .

A few years ago I walked into the  library and two of the Miss Smith books were on display. The titles immediately caught my eye because the bright cover illustrations reminded me of images from a View Finder I had as a kid, except without the 3D effect. I flipped through the pages and I knew that these books would be a hit with my then 4 year old eldest son.  I read both Miss Smith books, one after another, and he was hooked. When he really connects with a book, he will usually interrupt midway through the first reading and ask excitedly, “Are there more of these?”or  say, “I don’t ever want to return this book.”  He did both. My second son is now enjoying reading the Miss Smith series with us. I have no doubt, in another 1 ½ years, we will still be rereading the Miss Smith series, and my youngest will be joining us.

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook, Miss Smith Reads Again!, Miss Smith and the Haunted Library and Miss Smith Under the Ocean are the titles of the now four books in the series and they are all superb! I'm delighted that the series introduces the kids, albeit briefly, to a variety of classic titles such as The Lost World, Moby Dick, Treasure Island etc. As Michael Garland demonstrates through his magical Miss Smith series, "reading really can take you anywhere!"

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