Hardcover, 32 pages
Published by Houghton Mifflin (1977-09-09)
List Price: $17.99
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The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school.
So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value. The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways. James Marshall’s scritchy, cartoonish full-color ink and wash illustrations are hilarious. A back-to-school perennial!
One Potato Review
In fairness to the sweet-tempered Miss Nelson, those horrible little cut-ups in Room 207 were already explicitly preparing to capitalize on her absence, so she must have been doing something right. Yes, this story has all of the usual things to say about never knowing how good you have it until a witchy psychopath shows up as your substitute teacher, though Marshall’s impish deadpan is generally worth the price of a lesson. Miss Viola Swamp has deservedly booked a space in children’s worst-case scenarios for years, but the corresponding nightmares of Miss Nelson stranded forever on Mars, or eaten by sharks (Very Unpleasant reads a sign at the bottom of the hypothetical tank) or carried away by a swarm of angry butterflies is enough to even justify sequels.