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An Ode To Miss Malarkey: To Each Reader, A Book!

"Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind" by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley.

Myra here.

Yesterday, for Nonfiction Wednesday, I shared Patricia Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker and a list of her teacher-themed book titles. I thought it would be good to follow it through immediately with the story of Miss Malarkey.

 Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
Published by Walker & Company (2006)
ISBN: 0802780849 (ISBN13: 9780802780843). Borrowed from Singapore’s NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a whole-school initiative encouraging all students to read. It is a program called Everybody Reads in America. Miss Malarkey is in for a huge challenge though with students who identify proudly as non-readers and who would rather spend their time playing video games.

Reading this book actually made me wonder if there are other picturebooks that touch on reading programs not based in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom; or if there are stories from outside of said countries that pays tribute to dedicated teachers who are determined to find the absolute perfect book for the right reader at the right time; because after all, everyone can be a reader given the right book.

I really enjoyed seeing how Miss Malarkey is very well-intentioned: giving this young boy scary stories, fantasy stories, even poetry – and this boy’s clear attempts to enjoy the book given to him, yet everything seems to fail! Even as his other friends are beginning to enjoy the books that are handed to them by the indefatigable Miss Malarkey, this boy appears to be the only one unable to see the magic in reading.

While the art in this story may be rightly construed as somewhat outdated (it gave me James Marshall vibes of Miss Nelson Is Missing, although I confess to liking Marshall’s art more), the story remains true and timeless. I especially enjoyed seeing how Miss Malarkey never gave up on this boy, but used all their earlier trial-and-error titles as a way to gradually get into the things that he is interested in, and find the perfect book for him in the end.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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