5 Best & 5 Worst Teachers in Children’s Fiction : Pamela Butchart

Pamela ButchartWho are the best & worst teachers in children’s fiction? They do have a very real impact don’t they?!

Pamela Butchart, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2015, has done it all – picture books, middle grade books. I’m absolutely delighted that she has popped in to My Book Corner to share her teacher picks … her top five best AND worst of the fictional teachers are right here, what a treat!!

The Best Teachers in Children’s Fiction


Miss Honey (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

Every child deserves a teacher like Miss Honey. She’s the best.

“She seemed to understand totally the bewilderment and fear that so often overwhelms young children…Some curious warmth that was almost tangible shone out of Honey’s face when she spoke to a confused and homesick newcomer to class.”

Miss Gold-Top (First Week at Cow School by Andy Cutbill & Russell Ayto)

Daisy the cow isn’t doing very well in any of her lessons at Cow School. This is due largely to the fact that’s she’s not a cow at all; she’s a chicken. Daisy comes bottom of the class when it comes to swishing her tail and chewing the cud. But Miss Gold-Top is a good teacher who finds a way to help Daisy fit in and do well at school.

“Finally Miss Gold-Top emerged. “Today,” she said, a little shaken, “flying lessons!” Well, the whole class was dumbstruck. No one had ever told them about flying. And not one got an inch of the ground. Apart from…Daisy! “Well bless my soul,” gasped Miss Gold-Top, “Daisy can fly!”

Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter books by J K Rowling)

Professor McGonagall is a tough cookie who protects her pupils from danger and poor education. But best of all, she has a wonderfully dry sense of humour. (And she can turn into a cat, which is awesome).

“Ah, of course. There is no need to tell me any more, Ms. Granger. Which one of you will be dying this year?”

Mr Tushman (Wonder by R. J. Palacio)

Mr Tushman doesn’t tolerate snooty parents. And he isn’t scared to put parent members of the school board in their place when they question whether August should be allowed attend Beecher Prep due to his facial disfigurement.

Mr Tushman is a great head teacher – he’s reasonable, compassionate and understands that anyone can make a terrible mistake.

“While nothing justifies striking another student – ever – I also know that good friends are sometimes worth defending. This has been at tough year for a lot of students, as the first year of middle school usually is. Keep up the good work and keep being the fine boy we all know you are.”

Ms Mac (The World According to Humphrey Betty G. Birney)

Any teacher who gives her class a pet so they can learn about compassion and responsibility is a star is my opinion. AND a different pupil gets to take Humphrey each weekend!

“You can learn a lot about yourself by taking care of another species,” she told me on the way home the day she got me. “You’ll teach those kids a thing or two.”

Miss O’Malley (Socks Are Not Enough by Mark Lowry)

Even though her sausage fingers are quite distracting, Miss O’Malley helped poor old Michael Swarbrick get his life back on track after he discovered his parents were nudists.

“I noticed at this point that Miss O’Malley has big hands; huge great hands that could crush a kitten.  I could not take my eyes off her colossal hand. She should be more careful where she taps herself on the head. That massive thing could fracture her skull.”

The Worst Teachers in Children’s Fiction


Chas (Socks Are Not Enough by Mark Lowry)

It’s a bit impossible to take your teacher seriously when they’re fifty, wear skinny jeans and call themselves ‘Chas’.

“Yo dude,” he said as I came in (I swear my life – dude).

“How’s it hanging?”

Chas (I am assuming his real name is Charles) made a gun shape with two fingers and clicked his tongue.

He drew his lips back over his pointy teeth, giving him the appearance of some kind of starved guinea pig.

Mr Fricker (The Donut Diaries of Dermot Milligan by Anthony McGowan & illustrated by David Tazzyman)

A truly terrifying PE teacher.

“I want you over in that corner, standing on one leg. I’m going to send a boy over every ten minutes. If he reports back that you are not standing on one leg, I am going to come back here and tear the leg off at the socket and beat your brains out with it. Got that?” I went and stood on one leg in the corner of the gym…and thanked my lucky stars that he was in a good mood.”

Miss Trunchbull (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

No-one EVER deserves to have a teacher like Miss Trunchbull, not even a pupil who picks their nose and sticks it between the pages of someone else’s textbook.

“When she marched through the corridor you could actually hear her snorting as she went, and if a group of children happened to be in her path, she ploughed right on through them like a tank, with small people bouncing off her to left and right.”

Miss Wilson (Angus, Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison)

Miss Wilson has no personality at all. And she teaches RE badly. As a philosophy and RE teacher, I find this unforgivable. She also made her Georgia Nicolson and the rest of the class listen to her take about her personal hygiene. Oh dear.

“Yes, girls, I know how that person felt because when I was younger I had a BO problem myself and people used to avoid me. I never used to wash…”

Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter books by J K Rowling)

Dolores Umbridge is probably the worst teacher in children’s fiction ever. Ever!

“You know, I really hate children.”

Pamela will be visiting schools in Cumbria in July as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour, organised by Scottish Book Trust.

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