Allen $ Unwin, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
It’s the beginning of the new school year and the children are looking forward to meeting their new teacher. But this one is very different – she’s strict, she imposes rules and confiscates contraband and is no fun at all. So when she disappears on an excursion to the aquarium because the students have reverted to their usual abominable behaviour, it seems like a good thing…at first. But having to be fetched by the principal and her replacement for Miss Kraken who never returns is not necessarily the outcome the children were wanting…
There are those who think that teachers should always be like Miss Kraken – after all, there is no discipline in schools these days and boundaries never hurt the proponents who have all turned out perfectly – and there are those who think that there is room for change, a happy medium between fear and anarchy because rule by fear does not bring about sustained behaviour change but no boundaries breeds confusion and confrontation. So apart from the humour in the story, and the surprising solution that could spark debate, this is a great discussion starter about why society needs rules to guide it and whether these should be imposed or negotiated for greatest success. Classes will see themselves in the story and there could be great debate and greater understanding if a “what if…?” question were posed, as they examine the impact of the class’s behaviour on those working or visiting the aquarium, even the creatures themselves. How does their personal behaviour affect those around them?
The more often you read this story the deeper the questions that can be asked and explored…