"Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom!" by Kelly DiPucchio.

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"Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom!" by Kelly DiPucchio.

Diane Prather: Mrs. McBloom's cluttered classroom

Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

— For some people, making New Year's resolutions is a tradition. For example, my resolution for next year is to start making holiday preparations in early November. For Mrs. McBloom, of the tiny town Up Yonder, it should have been to clean up the clutter in her classroom.

Mrs. McBloom has been teaching for 50 years, spending all those years in classroom No. 5 of Knickerbocker Elementary. "Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom!" is a very funny picture book. It was written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Gus Francis.

What a sight Mrs. McBloom makes as she heads out for school on her red bicycle. It's a good thing her hair is piled high on her head (and I do mean high) because Mrs. McBloom uses it as a place to carry pencils, scissors, a ruler, crayons and a to-do list.

More items are stacked in the basket on the front of her bicycle. Books, an apple, a large screen grasshopper in a glass cage, a computer, her lunch, a goldfish in a bowl and even a pie somehow manage to stay balanced as they tower above Mrs. McBloom's head.

Mrs. McBloom doesn't seem concerned that a large dog has taken chase. She just throws him a bone. Watching Mrs. McBloom on her way to school must be a treat for the town's citizens.

Now, Room Five is a cluttered-up mess, and that's no exaggeration. Mrs. McBloom has never cleaned it - not in 50 years.

It isn't that she hasn't been asked to clean it up. The students have asked. Principal Pumpernickel has asked, too. So have 22 janitors that have come and gone throughout the years.

But, Mrs. McBloom just says "Oh, higgly-piggly" and points to her to-do list. "Clean up room" is listed just above "take a fancy-shmancy cruise."

On the positive side, Mrs. McBloom must be a fantastic teacher. On the chalkboard are notes about space, simple machines and penicillin. There are lots of living leftovers from science experiments, too, that fly, crawl and otherwise thrive in the classroom.

Chickens lay eggs in the coat cubbies (one is even learning to knit), and butterflies and birds fly around the students' heads. Frogs and ants are free to come and go from their aquarium homes. A large, ruby red apple tree grows in the middle of the room. Besides producing apples, the tree is home to an owl and a bluebird family.

And, believe me, there's much more, both living and nonliving.

Then it's one week before Mrs. McBloom is to retire, and her replacement (Miss Bumblesport) wants the room cleaned up.

So, as two squirrels try to retrieve an acorn that's fallen into Mrs. McBloom's hair, the teacher writes an assignment on the chalkboard. Who can come up with a plan to get Room Five cleaned up, and fast? Georgia Peachpit has the answer.

This is a comical, heart-warming, must read book. It's published by Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. The book costs $15.95 in hardcover.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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