The Toxic Avenger, 2006

You may remember the book “Miss Nelson is Missing.”

I didn’t, but I cheated, and got it in an anthology of picture books at The Boy’s baby shower (and yes, everyone was mortally offended that I registered at Amazon rather than Babies 'R' Us).

The Boy’s class had to tell us exactly what happened to Miss Nelson for their art project for Open House a couple of weeks ago.

I am pleased to report that Miss Nelson apparently did a lot of shopping, was briefly kidnaped by several aliens and a giant, and moved to the woods to be with her unicorn.

Then we came to The Boy’s picture, and discovered that Miss Nelson went walking too close to a toxic waste facility, ignoring all the orange safety cones, if you can believe it, had toxic waste spilled on her and mutated.

The dumpster was very realistic, and the toxic waste was green and yellow.

Most impressively, everything was spelled correctly.

I would like to know how a seven-year-old knows so much about toxic waste.

“He has the most exotic imagination,” his teacher tells me, shaking her head.

I like her a lot.

She sent home a note explaining the reading program. Three times a week, the kids bring home books – simple picture books, not War and Peace or anything – and it is your job to make the kid read to you until you are satisfied that the kid can read. You sign a note, and the kid can then read the book to the class for a grade.

The Boy’s first book was “Little Gorilla.”

Very cute – one of those repetitive things.

I am a bad mother, as you already know, so I didn’t make him read the book. I signed his note, tossed it in his backpack and sent him off to do a cold reading.

I thought any kid who was so very enthralled with Eva Ibbotsen could probably handle a simple picture book.

He hasn’t brought one home since. He put on a full performance, the most dramatic reading ever of a picture book by a second grader.

“(The Boy) reads like he talks,” his teacher told the class. “If you lose your place, you’ll just have to try and catch up.”

On the positive side, he is now allowed to check out chapter books from the library, which he assures me is a very big deal.