4 out of 4 stars
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In Mrs. White’s SUB SNIPS: Substitute Teaching Cartoons from Real Life, author Laura Moss White takes readers on an educational adventure. With 15 years of her life spent substitute teaching grades K-12, she experienced many memorable moments worth sharing. Readers will encounter a humorous variety of black-and-white comic squares featuring scenes of tantalizing gossip, acts of favoritism, territorial tantrums, and frustrations with Administration.
Pre-dawn phone calls often have substitute educators awaking frantic and frazzled; then they arrive to realize they’re subbing for a group field trip that’s already been loaded onto the bus. Secretaries exhibit no patience for confusion, and teaching assistants do little more than point out the biggest rabble-rousers and misfits in the mix. There are indecipherable lesson plans, art class disasters, disgruntled regulars in the break room, and devilish students with fiery agendas.
Since part-time subs are ineligible for benefits, this often labels them as “the beggars of the district,” and they’re often left feeling like aliens amongst peers. Older male teachers sometimes make unwelcome and suggestive innuendos, and some of the male students are guilty of making them too. The principals can be tough, and the students judgmental, but calling the on-site security officer for assistance is always an (ill-advised) option.
One of the neatest features of this particular title is that it has also been designed to serve as a coloring book! Each scene depiction is lettered in all caps, following the style of traditional comic strips. Broad character classifications are easily discernible by the presence of neck lanyards that either read “TEACHER” or “SUB.” The author credits Caitlin Skaalrud for providing the 60 drawings that brought her classroom experiences to life. I appreciated seeing the inclusion of subtle background details like an inspirational cat poster, apples, chalkboards, some undeniable unibrows, and plenty of anxious and bloodshot eyes.
I enjoyed the genuine authenticity of the content and comical reflections like how if you sub at a different school each day, you can get away with wearing the same outfit all week. My favorite illustration featured a chaotic PE playground run amok with escaping students, unbridled hyperactivity, cell phone use, and underage smooching. The grammatical errors were minimal, but I did encounter one misplaced possessive apostrophe and two instances of missing hyphenation. Beyond those imperfections, there was nothing I disliked.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has had firsthand experience in the classroom. There is no presence of bad language or outrageously mature content, so it is also appropriate for all audiences. There are some instances of crass humor (e.g., the implication that happy teachers must be on antidepressants), so sensitive readers might not find all of the content equally amusing. For substitute educators who have ever felt unwelcome at staff Christmas parties, the feeling is common.
I enthusiastically award this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. The author dedicates this book of humorous snapshots to “the brave, hardworking, and underappreciated men and women who keep the schools’ classrooms running when teachers are absent.” The next time they get directed to the back of the parking lot, or come under fire from paper airplanes, they can always consider just showing a movie during class. After all, they won’t be there for long.
Mrs. White’s SUB SNIPS
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