Teaching Mrs. Muddle Reviews

School Library Journal

Cover: Teaching Mrs. Muddle Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Alice Carter Publisher: Pajama Press“The first day of school can be scary and very, very confusing, and not just for the students….Nelson embraces the nervousness of walking into a school for the first time and blends those feelings with the antics of a hapless teacher who would get along just fine with Amelia Bedelia. Friendly and colorful illustrations depict a diverse group of students with a zany teacher at the helm…Children not yet old enough to read will be engrossed by the detailed images of all the places they may find in a school building. VERDICT This story is perfectly suited to settle some first day jitters, but will also be appreciated by teachers and parents who know what it takes to help children feel comfortable in new environments.”
—Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen P.L., NJ

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Kirkus Reviews

“It’s Kayla’s first day of kindergarten, and she’s riddled with anxiety about all the mistakes she’s sure she will make.

Then Kayla meets her teacher, Mrs. Muddle, and realizes that she might not be the only one learning the ropes….By the time the day is over, Kayla is confident in her ability to navigate her new school. Nelson’s narratorial voice is clear and charming, and the choice to illustrate Kayla as a dark-skinned girl of color is pleasing.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

Teaching Mrs. Muddle by award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrated by Alice Carter, is a fun-loving, thoughtful picture book about first-day-of-school jitters, empowerment and personal growth, all housed within 32 colourful pages….

A former kindergarten teacher turned junior high school teacher, Nelson has astutely captured both the curiosity and nervousness that often accompanies kids when beginning something new. And Carter’s bright, delightfully whimsical illustrations bring Kayla and her new school world brilliantly to life. The choice to illustrate Kayla (and many of her classmates) as a dark-skinned person of colour is both refreshing and important. At the same time, Carter’s ability to expertly characterize the expressions, actions and emotions of Kayla, Mrs. Muddle and those around them adds to the giggle level of this charming read.

A practical resource for librarians, teachers and families, this timely book makes the grade as ideal reading for bringing the focus back to a love of learning, friendship and fun, perfect for engaging and encouraging children during these uncertain, challenging times.”
—Jennifer D. Foster

Read the full review in the Winter 2020 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Without making Kayla precocious or Mrs. Muddle outrageous, Colleen Nelson creates a very relatable school situation that is both engaging and charming. It’s giving Kayla and every child the opportunity to see that they embody far greater capabilities than they imagine they possess. Though this is Colleen Nelson’s first picture book, her impressive repertoire of both middle grade novels such as Harvey Comes Home and YA novels like The FallFinding Hope and Sadia have always cheered young people for their ability to face challenges, find solutions and make better lives for themselves than their circumstances might dictate. Even in a light but big-hearted story about finding your own way by helping others, Colleen Nelson drives home the conviction that young people can do so much.

That brightness of Colleen Nelson’s story and message about children’s potential to lead is emphatically portrayed in Alice Carter’s illustrations. Rich in the primary colours which will appeal to young children, Alice Carter makes what could have been a gloomy story about making mistakes or an incompetent teacher into an energized lesson in helping with heart and being confident.

Teaching Mrs. Muddle should become a must-read for parents sending little ones off to kindergarten but it will be also become a favourite for young children who will laugh at the muddled Mrs. Muddle and applaud Kayla for her cleverness and subtlety, recalling their own first times in new situations and satisfaction at handling them as well.”

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Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? Kayla is nervous about her first day of kindergarten, but has so much fun at school she forgets about her worries. Mrs. Muddle, her teacher, makes mistake after mistake all day long, and Kayla and her new classmates must help her out. Kids will love laughing at the mistakes she makes, including giving out the wrong name tags, holding a book upside down during a read aloud, and taking the class all around the school and into many wrong rooms while looking for the gym and the bathrooms. Whether or not the reader knows that Mrs. Muddle’s ‘mistakes’ were on purpose, they will enjoy following her and the class all around the school. I appreciated the variety of skin colors in the characters, and the inclusion of a few male teachers. The illustrations add to the humor and really give the feel of a tour around an elementary school….

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a perfect read aloud for a first day of kindergarten (or preschool, or first grade). I would also recommend it to adults to read with children who are nervous about starting school for the first time, or for young readers who like funny school stories.”
Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

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Canadian Bookworm

“The illustrations were the best part of this book. They absolutely made the story come to life….From problems matching nametags to kids at the beginning of the day, to going to different rooms in the school as the day progressed, to using snacks as art supplies, the kids learn to work together to get things done and keep Mrs. Muddle organized….The endpapers are filled with more illustrations, alphabet pictures of letters and animals whose names start with the letters (or for Xx end with them).”

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Little Bookworm Club

“This is a really lovable and amusing story that’s sure to ease some first day jitters. Kayla is nervous about her first day of kindergarten. What is she gets lost or misses her mom so much she cries?
She meets her quirky teacher Mrs. Muddle, who is mixing up students name tags, reading books upside down, and can’t find the correct classrooms on their school tour. She follows Mrs. Muddle for the day helping correct her “mistakes” and has hands too full to remember she’s nervous.
Readers will delight in this humorous book even if they don’t catch what Mrs. Muddle is up to.”

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The Vancouver Writer’s Fest

“The titular Mrs. Muddle in this book is true to her name. She’s a kindergarten teacher, who instead of being the leader of her band of little charges, is very confused and, well, muddled. It’s the first day of school and little Kayla is worried about starting kindergarten. She’s worried about missing her mom and about finding her way around. But when she meets her teacher, Mrs. Muddle, she realizes that her problems are nothing compared to her teacher’s… Teaching Mrs. Muddle is a funny little book that conveys the message that it is okay to be nervous about starting new things; it’s a universal feeling shared not just by students but their teachers too; what is important is to be kind and extend help when you see that someone could with it. Grades Preschool-1

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“Kayla is very nervous to start kindergarten until she meets her teacher, Mrs. Muddle.

Mrs. Muddle holds books upside down,

mixes up classrooms,

and gets lost in the halls.

In fact, Kayla is so busy helping Mrs. Muddle all day, she forgets to be nervous.

Now Kayla’s only concern is whether or not Mrs. Muddle is ready to teach Kindergarten.


This heartwarming tale had me smiling and giggling as Mrs. Muddle brilliantly guides her students and puts their worries at ease through her “mistakes”.”

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Big Books For Little Hands (@bblhands) 

“Does your little one have the back-to-school jitters? Is your child starting a new school or getting on the bus for the first time?

Grab some books about school that will make them laugh and feel prepared.

Teaching Mrs. Muddle is one of my favorites because it’s just so funny…This book has my kids cracking up!”

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