Sunday, April 19, 2009

"She didn't look like a substitue teacher." Thirteen Ways To Sink a Sub by Jamie Gilson

I promised that this blog wouldn't be all about Trixie Belden, and I'm a blogger of my word. A couple of months ago, I found this book at a library sale for $1.00.

Squee! Hardback and everything! I loved this book when I was a kid, and it totally holds up now. I read it earlier last week when I was having a bad day, and I was laughing and feeling better by the end.

For the first and maybe only time this year, Mr. Starr's fourth-grade class at Stockton Elementary has a substitute teacher. The kids in the class decide to try to "sink" her (i.e.- make her cry). It's boys vs. girls, with the losers having to get kickballs out of the "Spit Pit" (a dirty stairwell full of trash) for the rest of the year.

The main character and narrator is a kid named Hobie. The substitute is a young teacher named "Svetlana Ivanovitch." She dresses the part, too, in a traditional Russian outfit. Miss Ivanovitch initially thinks that fourth graders are no different than kindergarteners and treats them accordingly. She quickly re-thinks this when the kids start switching names, sneaking out, and playing tricks on her.

I love Gilson's kid characters- they are funny and realistic without being cutesy or condescending. Or too bratty, as would be easy in a situation like the one in the book. Some of the kids do eventually feel bad about what's happening, but no one wants to be the one to stop it. Miss Ivanovitch is also smarter than she first appears to be. It was interesting to read this book as an adult, and one who worked briefly as a substitute teacher. I felt a new sympathy for the poor sub that I didn't feel as a kid.

Gilson wrote several books featuring Hobie and the kids of 4B. Double Dog Dare, 4B Goes Wild, and Hobie Hanson You're Weird are the titles that I know involve these kids. Get them if you can find them. I haven't read her other books, but if they're anything like Thirteen Ways To Sink a Sub, they will be good reads.

Back to Trixie ASAP. Mysterious Visitor is up next! Woohoo!

1 comment:

  1. Never heard of this but it sounds cute. I LOVE rediscovering books from my's such a nostalgia trip.