First of all, Dear Teacher written and illustrated by Amy Husband, has a supercool format. A wrap around cover and airmail envelope design have you flipping the book and lifting a flap to read the story inside. Secondly, the story within this book just screams, "HEY KIDS!! COPY ME!!!" A bit like Laura Numeroff's circular Mouse Cookie Books, and a bit like Remy Charlip's masterpiece, Fortunately, and Jules Feiffer's brilliant Meanwhile..., Dear Teacher follows our hero, Michael, on a journey that seems to take him farther and farther away from the inevitable FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!
The epistolary book begins with a letter from NT Grindstone, principal of Sunnybank Elementary School, dated Friday, August 15. It seems that a new teacher, Miss Brooks, has arrived to take over Michael's class and she has "exciting plans for the new year." Michael does not like this at all and has the brilliant idea to write back letting Miss Brooks know that he "might be a bit late for the first day of school." It seems that the secret service turned up in desperate need of Michael's help with a secret mission.
One thing leads to another and Michael ends up sending eight more letters of intent to return in time for a math test, while also recounting his adventures on Mt Everest, in Egypt, on the Amazon, on a pirate ship and on the Orient Express as well as in a rocket ship, which, unfortunately, will keep him in space for the next year. Miss Brooks, however, is not a teacher to be trifled with. She writes back to Michael letting him know how much he will be missed and how useful his knowledge of hippos, snakes, crocodiles and the like would have been on the school field trip to the zoo. Somehow, Michael manages to make it back in time for the first day of school, but, as the postcard he sends from his class trip to the zoo proves, he still has a bit of the adventurer in him.
So, how would I take this wonderful book and turn it into a project to do with my kids (if they were old or young enough)? Well, since we are having a "staycation" rather than any kind of vacation this summer, I would encourage my kids to take an imaginary vacation, sky (or space) is the limit. One adventure would lead to the next, maybe even necessitating some cultural and geography lessons covertly slipped in along the way. And, when were were done I think we would make a map of our adventures, of course, after reading The Once Upon a Time Map Book!