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Children's Fiction School & Education

Teaching Mrs. Muddle

by (author) Colleen Nelson

illustrated by Alice Carter

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
School & Education, New Experience, Humorous Stories
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1



Fall in love at first blunder with a wisely foolish kindergarten teacher who makes the first day of school an experience to remember.

Kayla isn’t too sure about the first day of kindergarten. What if she misses her mom? What if she can’t find the bathroom? But when Kayla meets Mrs. Muddle, it quickly becomes clear that Kayla’s problems are nothing compared to her teacher’s. Mrs. Muddle mixes up the kids’ name tags, takes them to the library instead of the gym, and can’t find the bathroom. She doesn’t even know how to use a slide properly! Clearly somebody needs to take charge. Soon Kayla is much too busy teaching her teacher to think about her own worries.

Hearkening back to classics like The Amelia Bedelia collection and Douglas Wood’s What Teachers Can’t Do, Colleen Nelson will make parents, children, and especially teachers laugh out loud over Mrs. Muddle’s antics and the exasperated Kayla’s leadership. As the students find their way around the school, Alice Carter’s giggle-inducing art welcomes readers into a kindergarten class that makes the first day of school seem very appealing indeed.


About the authors

An author and junior high school teacher who also enjoyed many years of teaching kindergarten, Colleen Nelson earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg. Her previous works include the critically-acclaimed middle-grade novels Harvey Comes Home and Harvey Holds His Own; Sadia, which won the 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award; and Blood Brothers, which was selected as the 2018 McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People. Colleen writes daily in between appearances at hockey rinks and soccer fields in support of her two sports-loving sons. The family’s West Highland Terrier Rosie adds an extra-loveable dose of liveliness, squirrel-chasing, and shoe-chewing to their lives.


Colleen Nelson's profile page

Alice Carter is an artist, illustrator, and storyteller with a passion for sharing her whimsical imagination. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design who now works with clients from all over the world, Alice is inspired by people watching, music, and every animal she comes across. Her picture books include Angus All Aglow, the Pierre & Paul stories, Our New Kittens, My Puppy Patch, and Teaching Mrs. Muddle. Alice lives in Ottawa, Ontario.


Alice Carter's profile page


  • Short-listed, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Selection

Excerpt: Teaching Mrs. Muddle (by (author) Colleen Nelson; illustrated by Alice Carter)

“Look, kids! It’s the phys. Ed teacher, Mr. Blue,” said Mrs. Muddle. “You mean Mr. Brown,” he said and gave us high-fives. Before we could play tag, we had to learn the gym rules. Everyone followed them, except for Mrs. Muddle. We stopped our game to help her clean up. “Thanks, Mr. Black,” she said. “Where to next, Kayla?”

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Teaching Mrs. Muddle

2021 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Selection

2021 Open Book “Read Local – Ottawa” Selection

"This story is perfectly suited to settle some first day jitters, but will also be appreciated by teachers and parents who know what it takes to help children feel comfortable in new environments."—School Library Journal

“Nelson’s narratorial voice is clear and charming, and the choice to illustrate Kayla as a dark-skinned girl of color is pleasing.”—Kirkus Reviews

“We rated this book: [5/5]…Colleen Nelson has written a really sweet story that will help young students with their first-day jitters. The writing has a great sense of fun and the story will make the pages fly by….A most charming book.”—Seattle Book Review

“Whether or not the reader knows that Mrs. Muddle’s ‘mistakes’ were on purpose, they will enjoy following her and the class all around the school….The illustrations add to the humor and really give the feel of a tour around an elementary school….This would be a perfect read aloud for a first day of kindergarten (or preschool, or first grade).”—Youth Services Book Review

“A fun-loving, thoughtful picture book about first-day-of-school jitters, empowerment and personal growth…Nelson has astutely captured both the curiosity and nervousness that often accompanies kids when beginning something new. And Carter’s bright, delightfully whimsical illustrations bring Kayla and her new school world brilliantly to life….A practical resource for librarians, teachers and families, this timely book makes the grade as ideal reading for bringing the focus back to a love of learning, friendship and fun…”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“Colleen Nelson creates a very relatable school situation that is both engaging and charming. It’s giving Kayla and every child the opportunity to see that they embody far greater capabilities than they imagine they possess....Even in a light but big-hearted story about finding your own way by helping others, Colleen Nelson drives home the conviction that young people can do so much.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“The illustrations were the best part of this book. They absolutely made the story come to life….From problems matching nametags to kids at the beginning of the day, to going to different rooms in the school as the day progressed, to using snacks as art supplies, the kids learn to work together to get things done and keep Mrs. Muddle organized.”—Canadian Bookworm

“[A] really lovable and amusing story that's sure to ease some first day jitters.”—Little Bookworm Club

Teaching Mrs. Muddle is a funny little book that conveys the message that it is okay to be nervous about starting new things; it’s a universal feeling shared not just by students but their teachers too; what is important is to be kind and extend help when you see that someone could with it.”—The Vancouver Writer’s Fest

“This heartwarming tale had me smiling and giggling as Mrs. Muddle brilliantly guides her students and puts their worries at ease through her “mistakes”.”—@jmebills

“Does your little one have the back-to-school jitters? … Grab some books about school that will make them laugh and feel prepared. Teaching Mrs. Muddle is one of my favorites because it’s just so funny… This book has my kids cracking up!”Big Books For Little Hands (@bblhands)

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