Patricia Brennan Demuth


In Trouble With Teacher

“Students will have much to talk and laugh about with other students who read the book.” — The Reading Teacher

Selected as A Children’s Book of the Year
by the Bank Street College Child Study Children’s Book Committee

Inside the Book

In Trouble with Teacher page scan

Read to find out how this worried guy solves his problem.


Surely there will be children feeling a strong sense of identification while reading In Trouble with Teacher by Patricia Brennan Demuth. This easy chapter book is the humorous yet tender story of Montgomery, a third grader. . .  Students who have found themselves in Montgomery’s shoes will find they have much to talk and laugh about with other students who read the book

The Reading Teacher, March ‘96

Readers will enjoy a fun read, and might even gain new insight into succeeding at school.

School Library Journal, 1995

Told with warmth, understanding, and an unexpectedly dry humor, In Trouble With Teacher is not only a sympathetic story, but a likeable portrait of an intelligent, talented boy as he learns some everyday lessons about facing challenges and gaining perspective.

Notes From The Windowsill, April 1995

Kids who panic at the thought of a classroom test and a strict teacher will be touched by this chapter book with its cheerful cartoon drawings. Montgomery has trouble with spelling. He writes great stories, but his new third-grade teacher gives them back with so many red marks that it looks like his paper has the measles. He tries to study–even gives up an exciting baseball game–but the weekly spelling test over whelms him. What if he flunks and everyone knows and he feels like a bug in the classroom? words and pictures get the details right for the grade-school scene, the friendships, and the jokes as well as the tension. And reassurance comes not with Montgomery miraculously learning to spell, but with the acceptance that failure doesn’t mean the end of everything. The teacher helps; she gets him a Spell Check; and he can relax and enjoy the ballgame with all his friends.

Booklist, American Library Association, April 1995

Though good at writing and art (and a star baseball player to boot), Montgomery is anxious about this Friday’s spelling test. He does not spell well, did not study, and is sure he will be scolded by his demanding third-grade teacher, Mrs. Wix. Feeling Montgomery’s anxiety, readers are as surprised as he is at not being admonished and embarrassed; the boy does not make excuses and Mrs. Wix offers only help and encouragement. Kelley’s cartoon-style, black-and-white drawings provide humor and visual breaks. If newly independent readers can get past the worrisome title, they will enjoy a fun read, and might even gain new insight into succeeding at school.

—School Library Journal, 1995

Montgomery’s third-grade teacher, Mrs. Wix, seems much more demanding than nice Miss Pink from second grade, who never made him read aloud and gave easy spelling words. Montgomery is certain he is doomed to participate in what he terms the “Flunker’s March,” where children who miss too many of Mrs. Wix’s overly tricky spelling words must go to the front of the classroom and speak privately to her. Sure enough, he flunks the test (“Any kid could tell them that elephant has an f in the middle, not a p!”), but discovers to his relief that, instead of yelling at him, Mrs. Wix offers a plan to help him improve his spelling and even compliments his storytelling skills. Demuth addresses a fear all children all at some point—getting in trouble with the teacher—with gentle humor, although her tone often sounds more like an adult interpreting the frustrations of childhood: “There were so many spelling rules to learn, so many exceptions to every rule.” A scene with a baseball game that distracts Montgomery from studying seems dropped in, but the other subplot of his friendship with Ben, who can’t draw any better than Montgomery spells, is nicely integrated. Kelley’s line drawing provide additional laughs, and their quantity helps make this a good choice for children moving out of easy readers into short chapter books.


Listed in “Books Inviting Conversation.” THE READING TEACHER, Vol. 49, No. 6 March 1996. pp. 480–87