Miss Smith Under the Ocean, by Michael Garland, Dutton Children's Book 2011. (Preschool/Early Elementary)
Miss Smith, that awesome red-headed, red-shoed teacher, reads again, and this time characters from "sea stories" come to life. Starting with "The Owl and the Pussycat", so that Miss Smith and the students have a boat, of course, Miss Smith wastes no time in conjuring the whale that eluded Ahab. The marvelous Miss Smith reads through so many adventures and the class meets so many characters, but it is the visit from Captain Nemo that makes me jealous. What I would give to bring the Nautilus to life! Clearly, Michael Garland loves books. He makes me want to go back and re-read every one of those classic tales.
As wonderful as this story is, it is the completely brilliant, slightly manic illustrations that breathe life into this book. My son, at not yet four, is too young to understand the literary allusions, but he can understand what is happening on each page because the illustrations are so absolutely perfect.