The teacher in this story, Nanny, plays an autoharp every day. It goes missing and as the story unfolds we discover the elves have borrowed it. The first thing I loved about this story was the wonderful teacher who has such a beautiful and kind face and finds so many real and exciting learning opportunities. Then I read more and it turns out she is a real person! Not only was Nanny Hineari Babbington a fabulous and memorable teacher who played the autoharp but she was instrumental in keeping te Reo Māori alive in schools. The author of this book was a student in one of her classes and this book – and the version in te reo, Tangiana te Pere – are dedicated to her teacher. How great is that!
This book is a lovely story with great inspiration. The illustrations take it to the next level with cheeky elves and classroom settings that many of us can relate to - they look for the harp under the beanbags where they find lost treasures and chewing gum, in the bushes they find a mouldy old book (!) alongside spiders and insects. I can’t wait to read this to my junior classes who are sure to love figuring out the clues in the pictures as the book progresses.
Title: When the Bell Rings
Author: Maxine Hemi
Illustrator: Andrew Burdan
Date of Publication: September 2016
Age range: Junior Primary
Reviewer’s name: Esther Casey, Teacher Librarian, Sylvia Park School, Auckland
How highly are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? When the bell rings on Monday, we rush in the room, some on our tippy-toes, one on a broom.