Do you know if your teacher sleeps at school or at home like you do?; My Teacher Sleeps in School, by Leatie Weiss. Illustrated by Ellen Weiss. New York: Frederick Warne. Pages unnumbered. $10.95. (Ages 5-8.)
This is a wonderfully empathic story, written by a kindergarten teacher, about the innocently far-fetched speculations of young schoolchildren as to just how and where their teacher lives.
The children (cutely animated as little elephant figures by the author's daughter) proceed to hunt for clues to prove that ''Mrs. Marsh'' lives right there in the classroom. They find a pillow, a pair of slippers, a towel. They reel with uncontrollable laughter, imagining their teacher in pajamas with ''gloopy cream on her face.''
It's the way the truth comes to light that is the unique message of love in this warm, tightly constructed story. A ''mystery'' bus trip to Mrs. Marsh's own house is the teacher's ingenious idea for a demystifying experience that creatively makes use of the children's imaginings in order to bring her own humaneness into full view. It is a chance for the author (through the character of Mrs. Marsh) to show her very teacherly grasp of the potential for learning afforded by the children's own childishness! They gleefully find out that the teacher is just like them.
The author allows no room for perfunctory answers that bluntly ''correct'' a child's imaginative concoctions. Instead, she encourages teachers and parents to provide children with the experience of seeing the truth for themselves. Thus the story becomes an inspired lesson in the art of caring. The message is hard to overlook - love is the matrix of intelligent, constructive interaction.