Seal Island School by Susan Bartlett, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Seal Island, Maine had one school and one teacher. Forty-nine people lived on the island. Each year a new teacher came to the school, and each year he or she left in June. The teachers all said it was too lonely there.
Pru Stanley really liked this teacher, Miss Sparling, and wanted her to stay on the island and be the teacher for a long time. Pru discoverd that Miss Sparling was saving up money for a Newfoundland dog because, “they’re good company.”
Pru received a pony for her birthday and Miss Sparling taught her how to care for him and ride him. Pru realized that she had a gerbil, a dog, and a pony, but Miss Sparling was alone. Pru decided to save up and buy her teacher a Newfoundland dog so Miss Sparling would stay on the island. Pru and her friend, Nicholas, collected cans for cash, and even worked helping unpack boxes in the local store.
Other story threads include a message in a bottle from a girl on the mainland – the students wrote to her via mail and she wrote back – and even visited; and the worry that the Seal Island School would close the next year because there must be “at least five kids to afford a teacher” – six children attended the school, but one would be too old the next year, and one might move away.
With the help of many friends, Pru succeeded in getting a Newfoundland dog (from a rescue organization) for Miss Sparling and giving it to her at the end-of-year ceremony. This book has a happy ending – with Miss Sparling staying on as the school teacher, the girl who sent the message in a bottle coming to live on the island, and the school having enough students to stay open.
This is a good book for young readers who are ready for chapter books, but still enjoy shorter chapters with some black and white illustrations throughout.