Thank You Miss Doover


Thank You, Miss Doover
by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson & reviewed by Susan Fry

The wreckage following a birthday party always stuns me. Boxes torn open. Wrapping paper scattered around the room. My sons galumphing around, gleefully playing with every new toy at once.

If only they were as enthusiastic about thank you notes for the presents. I’m lucky if I can get my kids to scrawl anything – their names, a lopsided pirate, a jam-covered fingerprint – on an envelope.

I’m hoping that Thank You, Miss Doover can help. The book follows Miss Doover’s attempts to teach her class about the proper etiquette of thank you notes. The students’ repeated efforts to get them just right will have your own kids rolling on the floor with laughter.

Jack, for example, is convinced that he can whip off a thank you to his Great-Aunt Gertie on the very first try. “Dear Great-Aunt Gertie, Thank you for the present! Love, Jack.”

I have to admit that my own notes often follow this pattern. But, like Jack, I’m obviously not trying hard enough. There’s a reason Jack’s teacher is named Miss Doover, or Miss Do-over.

Miss Doover suggests ways for the students to improve, such as describing how they feel about a gift or explaining why a present is useful. She also gives the children new vocabulary words, including “implore,” “place of honor,” and “unbelievable.”

With each suggestion, the kids express more and more honestly what they think about their gifts, and sometimes what they think about the givers, as well.

Jack’s second, “improved” attempt? “It’s not my favorite gift, but I have used it a lot.” By his final draft, he’s revealing that his Great-Aunt’s present has been used to housetrain his dog: “Most of the stationery is white, but some turned yellow in its place of honor in our home.”

It’s impossible not to laugh at the other students’ last versions, including “I regret that [the magic kit] did not make my brother disappear,” or “It’s unbelievable that you sent me another dreidel,” or “[the baseball bat] will always remind me of you. That’s because on my favorite TV show, everybody calls the grandma the Old Bat.”

In the end, Jack writes Miss Doover the best thank you note of all: for not giving up on him.

Great-Aunt Gertie may not be so grateful.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

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