Harry Allard's Miss Nelson Is Missing!
illustrated by James Marshall
Children's book review by Sarah Denslow
It’s time for school again (what? already?), and while that does mean the end of summer, it’s also a perfect time to dig up some classic school stories.
One of my school-related stories is Harry Allard’s Miss Nelson Is Missing! It’s hard not to love this tale of Miss Nelson and her alter ego, Viola Swamp.
Miss Nelson is sweet and kind, but her students are inclined to take advantage of her easy-going nature and misbehave. In fact the kids in room 207 are some of the worst behaved kids in school. Miss Nelson doesn’t know what to do.
One morning, however, Miss Nelson fails to show up for school. At first the students are excited – surely they will be able to misbehave even more with a substitute!
But then Miss Viola Swamp walks into class. Mean, strict, and ugly Miss Swamp is the polar opposite of Miss Nelson. The children soon realize that misbehavior is not an option in Miss Swamp’s class.
The children are beside themselves by the end of the week and even get a detective to look for Miss Nelson, but to no avail. Come Monday, however, Miss Nelson returns. The children are so relieved to see her that it seems their misbehaving days are over.
But what has happened to Miss Swamp? The only clue is an ugly black dress hanging in Miss Nelson’s closet…
Miss Nelson is Missing! is a perennial favorite with children, who love discovering that Miss Nelson and Miss Swamp are one and the same. James Marshall’s classic illustrations bring the book alive.
Miss Nelson Is Missing! is best for children who have been to school for a few years and understand how substitutes work. It is probably better not to read to a child starting school for the first time, lest they worry that they will wind up with a teacher like Viola Swamp instead of like Miss Nelson.
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