Fantastic Friday: The Magical Ms. Plum

With so many children's books vilifying teachers, I enjoy coming across a book with a great teacher in it.  Throw in some magic and some children and I'm hooked.

The Magical Ms. Plum
by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Amy Portnoy
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Grades 1-3
Reviewed from personal copy.

Everybody wants to be in Ms. Plum’s class. It’s not just that she teaches the usual things in unusual ways. There’s something more, something about Ms. Plum herself—and her mysterious supply closet. Whenever she asks her students to get her an eraser or a pencil or some paper clips, they come back with something . . . unusual. Who’d have thought a pinky-sized alligator, a big-mouth parrot, or a tiny wolf could teach kids a thing or two about life? Each year, Ms. Plum is certain she’s had her best class ever. And it looks like this year . . . she’s right! (
Working in a school, I have a chance to see the power of a good teacher to make a difference in the lives of his/her students.  While I too try to make a difference, I only see each class once a week, so except for the avid readers who I see almost every day, I often don't know all the challenges that students struggle with, both personal and familial. 

This light read involves students facing up to and learning from their weaknesses through the use of a magical closet and its magical inhabitants.  I wish I had such a closet, sigh.  I appreciated that it wasn't just the students who learned from the animals, but also Ms. Plum. As a teacher, I feel it is important to keep learning every day.  I plan to use this book with my third grade classes as a discussion starter about behavior and how we can help each other be better.


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