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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
It’s only natural to become attached to a teacher, one that sees you every day and knows your good points and your bad. When that rhythm of regularity is interrupted, though, and the regular teacher is replaced by a substitute teacher, everything is different. There is a sense of discord, a disconnection of sorts. Whilst the students feel somewhat jilted at the temporary loss of their regular teacher, the substitute teacher is at a loose end, trying to connect with so many unknowns, both students and class routines. It’s an awkward situation all round. But it doesn’t have to be unpleasant, and, although Scarlet believes that one particular substitute teacher, Mrs. Finchy, is really a witch and not to be trusted, she soon learns that even a substitute teacher can be fun and provide a rewarding experience. Certainly the ice cream and root beer treats for a science experiment helped pave the way for this substitute teacher’s rise in popularity.
Sheri Powrozek’s middle grade novel, Tales of a Substitute Teacher: Volume 1: There is a Witch’s Brew in Room 22, introduces to young readers the many complex feelings and conflicting emotions that occur when a substitute teacher enters the classroom, especially if it’s for an extended period of time. While Scarlet wavers between disappointment in not being the “star” pupil of the week and doing her own special presentation, she reluctantly learns to adapt to Mrs. Finchy’s manners and methods of teaching, and she actually warms up to this substitute teacher who might also be a witch. A pleasant read and a valuable lesson in respect. And, as Scarlet confessed at the end, “So next time a substitute teacher comes to school, whether it's Mrs. Finchy or Mrs. Rose or some new teacher I haven’t met yet, I’m going to be extra nice. They are all here to help us. Even if one is crazier than the rest.” Hopefully the readers will, like Scarlet, reluctantly learn to accept and respect substitute teachers.