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picture book

Troll Teacher



"Fans of Harry Allard's 'Miss Nelson' may take to it like bats to the rafters."

—School Library Journal



"Now children," said Miss Turtledove, taping her long, sharp pointer stick against her warty palm. "Pay attention. Two plus two equals seventeen. Except on Tuesdays, when they're thirty-two."

Elizabeth sank lower in her seat.

"The capital of New York State is Bolivia."

Elizabeth sank even lower in her seat.

"George Washington invented pizza in 1954."

Eliazbeth sank so low in her seat that she fell out of her chair.

Miss Turtledove stared at Elizabeth. "If you must sit on the floor," she said, "move you desk to the cloakroom where it won't be in the way."

By the end of the day, the cloakroom was cluttered with three other desks, as well as the class aquarium, the wall clock, and a picture of Mr. Boynik, the principal.

Troll Teacher

Illustrated by Mary Jane Auch

Ages: 4-8

Publisher: Holiday House (hardcover)/Scholastic (paperback)

Status: This book is out of print and is not available, even as an e-book. It can be found–if at all–in libraries or used book stores.

Book Description:

Elizabeth tries to tell her family that there is something wrong with her new teacher, but they cannot see it, even though Miss Turtledove has orange eyes, eats desks, and throws fruit at the students. 


Where do you GET those ideas?


During the summer when my daughter Beth was between second grade and third, an out-of-town friend came to visit and asked her who was going to be her third grade teacher. Beth answered that she didn't know for sure, but gave the names of the two possible teachers. Her friend--who'd never heard of Beth's school, much less these teachers--decided to tease and give her a hard time. She gasped in shock. She said: "I've heard of them. That first one, she gives three and a half hours of homework every night. And that other one, she loves it when girls have long hair because she sneaks up behind them to pull their hair really hard."


Isn't it great to have friends to support you?


I remembered how I used to get a bit nervous, just as summer vacation ended, wondering what next year's teacher would be like. And I started thinking: What if there was a teacher who was every bit as bad as Beth's friend was saying? What if she was worse? What if, in fact, she wasn't even human?


(Beth's third grade teacher, by the way, turned out to be a sweetheart.)​

Fun Facts


Troll Teacher is the only book where I knew the illustrator. In fact, Mary Jane Auch and I were friends long before this project came along.

Before Troll Teacher was a book, it was published as a short story in the newspaper 

Young American and in School Magazine, which comes out in Australia.

MJ heard me read the short story and suggested I should send it to her editor. Fortunately, the editor liked both the story and the sketches MJ sent along with it, and agreed to publish the book.

Although I hadn't had my picture in any of my other books, I thought this was the time to make an exception. Since this story takes place in kindergarten, I called MJ, and suggested that we send in pathetic looking pictures of ourselves from kindergarten.

Here's my picture:


Here's MJ's picture:

Aw, isn't she adorable? But now you know she can't be trusted.

To visit MJ's web page, go to HERE



Under the troll bridge at 

Strong Museum of Play 

in Rochester, NY

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