My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) By Peter Brown
The Story: Robert has a big problem at school. His teacher is a monster! She doesn’t appreciate his paper airplanes, his chatting in class, even the way he walks! With a teacher like that, Robert needs some downtime on the weekend, so he heads to his favorite park. But lo and behold, Robert finds a terrible surprise! His monster of a teacher has decided to spend her free time in HIS FAVORITE SPOT! Bound by social graces, Robert says hello, and he begins to realize maybe his teacher isn’t a monster after all . . . well . . . at least when she’s not in school.
What Wallace and I Think: This is a great picturebook for those of us heading back to school (I start on Thursday!!!). How many times have we all felt misunderstood by our teachers? Sometimes they’re worse than parents! Noticing everything, making it seem like you can’t do anything right! If you, or a child you know, feels this way, this is the book for you.
Peter Brown literally humanizes the monster teacher, Ms. Kirby. The longer Robert spends with Ms. Kirby in the park, the more Ms. Kirby loses her monsterous form and is revealed as a human woman. We’ve all had that experience of running into our teachers outside of school, and it feels weird to realize they’re people too, they don’t live at the school! Outside of school, Robert and Ms. Kirby are able to better understand each other. Most importantly for Robert, he realizes that Ms. Kirby isn’t a monster, she can have fun, but perhaps school isn’t the place where she can have it. It’s a great lesson in changing your perspective, and looking outside yourself to consider things from other people’s vantage points. This is one of the great benefits of not only reading picturebooks, but just generally reading to younger children, as it can develop their empathetic sensibilities.
Aside from the great message, Brown has created a funny book with quiet punch lines found mostly in Robert and Ms. Kirby’s facial expressions. The art is fantastic, and as I’ve already mentioned, I love that Ms. Kirby slowly transforms from looking like a monster to a woman.
While this book is obviously great for kids that have already started school, I think it could be of benefit for younger children to have this lesson instilled within them before starting school or preschool or daycare. Or, do you know a teacher that would appreciate feeling understood? This could make a great funny gift for teachers in your life. My mom might just be getting one for Christmas (if she hasn’t already bought it for herself, which is a huge possibility!!)