Children's Literature Bookshelf

“Substitute Teacher Plans” by Doug Johnson, illustrated by Tammy Smith Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2002, 32 pages, K-2.

“Substitute Teacher Plans” by Doug Johnson, illustrated by Tammy Smith
Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2002, 32 pages, K-2.

Picture books are some of the most entertaining forms of literature. The writing is important but the illustrations usually carry the story. There are many forms of art in picture art. These range from abstract drawings, to stunning oil paintings, to hilarious illustrations that will keep children and adults laughing.

Doug Johnson has written a delightful, funny story with Tammy Smith providing humorous drawings for the text. The name of this pleasant picture book is “Substitute Teacher Plans.”

The school year has become long for Miss Huff and her elementary school class. She is tired, and the students aren’t paying attention. Some of them are making faces at other students while others crawl under desks and bother their classmates. With a deep sigh, Miss Huff knows that she needs a day off and plans to take it the following day.

That night, she makes up the substitute teacher plan for the next day. It is what any substitute teacher would expect. Miss Huff wants the class to have quiet reading, creative writing, math exercises and recess activities. Then she writes out a list of all the things she wants to do on her day off. They include any number of exciting activities such as going to the amusement park and riding on the roller coaster, skydiving, building sand castles on the beach, scuba diving, and becoming a lion tamer at the circus. What a day it is going to be!

Miss Huff drives to school with both lists and takes one and places it on her desk for the substitute teacher before she leaves. Contented, Miss Huff returns and looks at the first activity on her list. The first item: reading from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. She can’t believe her good luck and gets comfy in a chair and begins reading a funny book. What an hour and 15 minutes of fun Miss Huff has.

Meanwhile, the substitute teacher, Mrs. Martin, looks at her duties for the day. The first one looks like it will be exhilarating: Go to the amusement park and ride the roller coaster. Soon the class is gripping onto the rails of the roller coaster and flying down the ride.

Mrs. Martin can’t believe her good luck. Who would ever have thought that a teacher could make such creative lesson plans? Meanwhile, Miss Huff has started her next part of the day, writing from 10:30 to 11. What an enjoyable idea! After all, most people don’t get to write at leisure during the day. At the same time, Mrs. Martin reads her list and calls up the airport and orders the parachute plane. Wow, is this ever a good day! The activities just keep going. Do the two teachers ever figure out what happened?

What occurs next? Do the children enjoy their day? What is the biggest surprise in the book? Is Miss Huff finally rested? Have you ever had unexpected things turn into a delight? What does Miss Huff do next? To find out the answers to these and other questions, go to the library and read this funny, refreshing book, “Substitute Teacher Plans” by Doug Johnson.

“Substitute Teacher Plans” won the Golden Sower Medal as the most popular K-3 book in Nebraska in 2006. It is hard to either read or hear this book read in class without repeatedly breaking into peals of laughter. If you want a book that will lift your spirits, this is the one. I hope you get a chance to share this book with the younger members of your family. It is a surefire winner. Who knows? Maybe someone in your family also wants to be a lion tamer. Have a great time with this book.

Terrence Nollen




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