Miss Nelson cannot control her classroom. "The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again," the book starts off. "Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzed through the air. They were the worst behaved class in the whole school." Squat faces of children doing headstands during story hour, tongues out, drawing mean pictures of their teacher, mark the naughtiest classroom in the past twenty-five years. "Something must be done," says a resigned, rosy-cheeked Miss Nelson.
The next day the teacher is nowhere to be found, and the children rejoice and throw more paper airplanes-a little too soon. An unpleasant substitute in an ugly black dress, Miss Viola Swamp, sweeps in in her stead. She loads the kids with homework and lays down the law. The awful substitute allows the kids to team up and search for their missing teacher; they even hire the befuddled, pipe-puffing Detective McSmogg to tackle the case. The wacky watercolor drawings fit the mystery and mischief of Miss Nelson is Missing perfectly, from throwing spitballs to the terrified kids spying on their evil substitute carrying groceries down the street. The story may not sober your kids' behavior in class, but the last page will make them realize they're not the only ones who know how to pull a gag. Oh, and they'll also beg you to read and reread the story of Miss Nelson and her class.
Reviewed by CH.
Themes: HUMOR. SCHOOLS & SCHOOL STORIES. TEACHERS.
Houghton Mifflin, 1977
Suggested Ages: 4 and Up