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Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook
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About the Author

I was born on 34th Street in Manhattan. My parents were from Queens. They married when my dad returned from World War II; he then joined the ranks of the NYPD. A sister and two brothers rounded out my family. When our Stuyvesant Town apartment grew too small, we moved to the relative wilds of Staten Island.I spent my childhood roaming the woods, playing sports, crossing the street without looking both ways, and drawing. Drawing was the thing I did best. I wasn't the smartest one in my class or the best athlete in any sport, but when they passed out the paper and crayons, it was my time to shine. My teachers would never hold up my math test as an example, but everything I drew would be shown to the class and given a place of honor on the bulletin board. I started to think I might become an artist. After high school, I went to Pratt Institute to study art. I cleaned the floors in a nursing home and drove a cab nights and weekends. Soon after graduating, I sold my first illustration to True Confessions magazine. I was on my way--at the beginning of a thirty-year career of illustrating everything you could imagine. I now have twenty-three books in print, and several more in the pipeline. Along the way, I married Peggy and we had three children: Katie, Alice and Kevin. Two are in college and one is about to start (please buy my books!). We live in Putnam County, New York. Sixteen years ago I decided I wanted to be a writer as well as an artist. Sixteen published books later, I'm still at it. I was born on 34th Street in Manhattan. My parents were from Queens. They married when my dad returned from World War II; he then joined the ranks of the NYPD. A sister and two brothers rounded out my family. When our Stuyvesant Town apartment grew too small, we moved to the relative wilds of Staten Island. I spent my childhood roaming the woods, playing sports, crossing the street without looking both ways, and drawing. Drawing was the thing I did best. I wasn't the smartest one in my class or the best athlete in any sport, but when they passed out the paper and crayons, it was my time to shine. My teachers would never hold up my math test as an example, but everything I drew would be shown to the class and given a place of honor on the bulletin board. I started to think I might become an artist. After high school, I went to Pratt Institute to study art. I cleaned the floors in a nursing home and drove a cab nights and weekends. Soon after graduating, I sold my first illustration to True Confessions magazine. I was on my way--at the beginning of a thirty-year career of illustrating everything you could imagine. I now have twenty-three books in print, and several more in the pipeline. Along the way, I married Peggy and we had three children: Katie, Alice and Kevin. Two are in college and one is about to start (please buy my books!). We live in Putnam County, New York. Sixteen years ago I decided I wanted to be a writer as well as an artist. Sixteen published books later, I'm still at it.

Reviews

With her spiky red-orange hair, leather jacket and "The Clash" pin, "Miss Smith seemed very... different from Zack's other teachers. But the day went along like every school day Zack could remember-until Miss Smith said, `It's story time.' " The teacher opens a leather-bound volume with a filigree cover, and the pages begin to glow. As Miss Smith reads, fantasy characters appear and the classroom transforms into a pirate ship or a fairy-tale forest until the story is complete. One day, Miss Smith is late and the school principal picks up the magic tome. When a dragon emerges, he flees, and the giddy children pass the book around. Before long, familiar characters like the Three Bears, Headless Horseman, Cowardly Lion and Mad Hatter are on the loose, and Miss Smith has to get them under control. Garland (The Mouse Before Christmas) styles petite Miss Smith as a punk-rock throwback, but he doesn't draw any connection between her distinctive looks and the storybook's powers. Miss Smith seems like a wayward character from some other tale, and child character Zack barely registers on the plot. Likewise, visual icons like Alice and Bo Peep may be present, but without their attendant narratives, they lack substance. The author acknowledges classic children's literature without igniting enthusiasm for it. Ages 5-11. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Gr 1-4-Zack's exciting new teacher has a magic storybook. When she opens it up and reads aloud, the characters pop out and bring the tales to life right before the students' eyes. But Miss Smith's book isn't for everybody, and when stuffy Principal Rittenrotten has to fill in for her one morning, the dragon, princess, and knight that materialize from the pages send him from the room in a panic. The only way to make them disappear is to finish their respective stories, but Zack's classmates keep beginning new ones instead, until the school is overrun with Goldilocks, the Mad Hatter, and other such characters, seen vividly cavorting across the full-page spreads. Fortunately, Miss Smith shows up just in time and returns them to the safety of the book's pages, leaving the principal confused and her students forever in her debt. The lively, bright illustrations have a glossy, computer-generated quality that young readers will appreciate. Miss Smith wears a black leather jacket and a lapel button advertising "The Clash," and has a punk-rock hairdo. A satisfactory addition to most collections.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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