Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Miss Brooks' Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome)

Miss Brooks' Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome)

Barbara Bottner
Illustrator:  Michael Emberley 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2014   ISBN: 978-0449813287

Whenever she can Missy tries to go to Miss Brooks’ Story Nook, which takes place at school before proper classes begin. Of course sometimes she is running late, which means that she has to take the shortcut, which means that she has to go past Billy Toomey’s house. Every time Missy encounters Billy Toomey he does something annoying or upsetting.

One day it is raining and Missy has to take the shortcut, and as per usual Billy Toomey is lying in wait. By the time Missy gets to the school library, Story Nook has started and she is soaked and annoyed. Missy and the other children are happily listening to a pirate story when the lights go out and Miss Brooks tells the children that since it is too dark to read, they should tell stories of their own.

The children are not sure where to start so Miss Brooks says that “One way to begin is to think of a problem that needs solving.” Missy’s problem is Billy Toomey, but she can’t make up a story about him.

No one comes up with anything, so finally Missy starts by telling everyone that an ogre lives on her street, and the ogre, Graciela, keeps a lot of wild animals in her home including a lion, an alligator, some hyenas, and a snake. Encouraged by Miss Brooks Missy keeps going. She describes how the snake escapes from its cage and how it wraps itself around Billy Toomey and squeezes him so hard that his eyes fall out. In her story at least, Missy “takes care of Billy Toomey.” If only she could find a way to take care of him in real life.

This deliciously funny picture book explores the power of storytelling. We often think that stories live in their own world and they cannot possibly spill over into the world we live in, but as Missy finds out, there are times when stories can indeed help us in our lives.