While visiting my in-laws last weekend, I accompanied my sister-in-law on an errand to the teacher supply store. (It was my very own Journey to the Center of Educational Worth.) Have you ever been in one of these places? For my readers who teach, I’m sure it’s old hat. For me, it was like peeking behind the curtain in the Emerald City and seeing the real Wizard of Oz.
I’d never really stopped to consider where all of those bulletin board displays, charts, and classroom signs came from. (Magic? Elves?) Now I know – they come from a store that has every school supply you can imagine, as well as hundreds that you cannot.
Shopping in this store is not for the faint of heart. The music playing will make you yearn for regular elevator muzak. I have to wonder why the proprietors think that teachers would rather listen to kid songs instead of some Top 40, some smooth jazz, or any other music that will not haunt their nightmares later.
(In case you’re wondering what tracks I boogied to during my visit, check out tracks 3, 4, 9, and 10 on the Hip-Hop AlphaBop CD and prepare for an infestation of earworms. These Are the Vowels, indeed. I bet if you play it backwards, the CD is mocking you. “And sometimes y… why? Why y? Why?” Mad respect for the people who work there and listen to that music all day long.)
Each shopper seems to have one eye on the three giant laminating machines, waiting for her turn to laminate teaching aids galore. (My sister-in-law made this pilgrimage solely for the purpose of using the self-service lamination station. Also, I’m not being sexist here. During my visit, all of the patrons were female.) Those laminating machines are no joke. I totally want one now. (Conveniently located next to the sometimes-long line for the lamination station? A display of smaller laminating machines for purchase.)
Anyway… while my sister-in-law waited for her turn to laminate, I explored the store. It really did have everything. My two favorite finds? A book called Children Make Terrible Pets and this board game:
Puns aside, let’s get back to the book. Children Make Terrible Pets is written by my new friend, Peter Brown. (Note: Peter Brown and I are not actually friends. Unless one of my friends is writing under that pseudonym, which I very much doubt.)
The book tells the story of a young bear who adopts her first pet, a human boy that she finds in the woods. I skimmed through the book in the store, and was instantly charmed. I suppose the lesson is that wild animals are not really meant to be pets, even if they follow you home. I can’t decide whether to give it as a gift to a child… or as a tongue-in-cheek gift to some of my favorite adults without children. (You can’t go wrong with that title, after all.)
Have you ever seen this book? Would you recommend any other books to teach children about having pets? Comments on these and other topics will receive bonus points (and an imaginary gold star) if they contain an animal pun. (Speaking of puns, here are some pun-tastic gifts for the teacher in your life…)