Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t) by Barbara Bottner
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Cindy: For every enthusiastic librarian or teacher, there’s a kid out there with a “prove-it-to-me” attitude. Miss Brooks is a costumed, puppet-wielding vortex of book-loving, book-promoting energy but one of her young students is not buying any.
I ask Miss Brooks why she dresses up for reading circle.
“I want you to get as excited about books as I am,” she says.
I think Miss Brooks gets a little too excited. And I bet her costumes itch.
When the girl asks her mother if they can move to a new town her mother replies, “…there’s a librarian in every town.”
Book Week comes and the librarian gets even more excited while the little cynic rejects the gusto with which a variety of books are offered. It’s finally a wart and a snort that wins the girl’s affections for books. Yes, William Steig’s brilliant Shrek. Miss Brooks Loves Books (Random/Knopf) is sure to become a March is Reading Month staple.
Each fall I start the school year by challenging my students at orientation to play “Stump the Librarian.” I tell them that I know that not everyone likes to read as much as I do, but that I can help them to find at least one item in the library that they will like. They are encouraged to come to me during the first few months of school and say “I dare you to find me a book I will like.” They love hearing that I’ve never been stumped and think that they will be the one. I love that I’ve eliminated a few barriers to getting them to talk to me about books, and, so far, my record stands. We excitable book-loving librarians are hard to outlast.
Lynn: I’m not sure who is going to laugh most at this charming book – kids or librarians. We librarians all know this skeptical child who scornfully rejects every book we offer. Illustrator Michael Emberley captures the very essence of resistance that oozes from this bespectacled child. In contrast, the energetic Miss Brooks seems to spark enthusiasm from the ends of her wild hair. It is clear from Emberley’s warmly comedic pictures that Miss Brooks is not going to give up till the reluctant narrator is converted. Thank goodness for warts and snorts and all the “funny and fantastic and appalling” books in the library and for all the Miss Brooks fighting the good fight.