Thursday, May 4, 2017

A book of coupons by Susie Morgenstern

This is one of those really precious books (first published in French 1999, US English edition 2001) that I have been recommending for many years.  The terrific thing about internet shopping is the way you can now find copies of long out of print titles often in mint condition.  I did a little shopping the other day and found A book of Coupons and my copy arrived last week.

In just 62 pages Susie Morgestern gives us a picture of this little class of students in their last year of Primary school.  The new teacher is a disappointment - or is he?

"There he was, sitting behind his desk like some unmovable tree trunk ... Could all those wrinkles be real?"

Mr Noel (some people call him Santa) then surprises the students by presenting each of them with a book of coupons.  "I love giving presents, and I am going to give them to you every single day. I'm giving you the whole year of lessons for free. I'm giving away books. I'm giving away penmanship and spelling. I'm giving away math and science. ... I'm even throwing in the cataclysms."

Some sample coupons :

  • One coupon for sleeping late
  • One coupon for skipping a day of school
  • One coupon for being late for school
  • One coupon for getting out of trouble
  • One coupon for dancing in class
  • One coupon for clowning around
  • One coupon for giving the teacher a kiss on the cheek
Later that day he gives the students a copy of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

"My gift to you is the story, the characters, the words, the ideas, the style, the emotions. Once you have read the book, 
all these things will be yours for life."

The angry school Principal keeps visiting the classroom at the 'wrong' times. She sees dancing the first time she calls in.  She is determined to get rid of this inappropriate teacher.  The next time she enters the room she sees a real cataclysm.  The kids have decided to use the same coupon at once. Then there is a day when all the kids stay home. Except for Charles who used his stay home coupon earlier in the year.  Charles and Monsieur Noel write a new set of coupons for the aptly named Principal - Madame Incarnation Perez.

  • One coupon to tell a joke
  • One coupon to take a bubble bath
  • One coupon to go on a picnic
  • One coupon to make up a poem
  • One coupon for a spin on a merry-go-round

At the end of the year all of the students have a special coupon for Mr Noel himself.  Yes he does have to retire and sadly the Principal did not get to read or enjoy her coupons and yet somehow the ending is just perfect.

If you are looking for a little book that will warm your heart read A book of Coupons.  If you are looking for a joyous book to read aloud to a middle Primary class read A book of Coupons.  If you want to share a book about kindness with a young reader - grab hold of A book of Coupons.

You might like to read my review of Sally Morgenstern's other book Secret Letters from 0-10.  I also recommend watching the French movie To be and to Have after reading A book of Coupons.

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