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Review: Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall

Substitute Creacher
By Chris Gall
Little, Brown
ISBN: 9780316089159
Grades 1-3
In Stores

Kids are born to push boundaries. You need to know where the limits are if you’re always told to live inside of them, right? And so the push ensues – both at home and in the classroom. This eternal struggle has been a goldmine for children’s literature over the years (paging Miss Nelson is Missing, paging Mrs. Nelson). With Substitute Creacher, Chris Gall (Dinotrux, There’s Nothing to Do on Mars) puts his own ominous twist on the bad class construct, with results that are sure to draw eager eyeballs.

When Ms. Jenkins calls in sick with a “serious case of frazzled nerves” an unusual substitute arrives to greet her out-of-control class. Mr. Creacher is a giant green squid who speaks exclusively in rhyme. The class unfazed, Mr. Creacher launches into a rundown of misbehaving students and what became of them. But it is the last cautionary tale that convinces the students to quell their mischievous ways, as Mr. Creacher tells the story of how a curse turned him from a boy into a monster, forced to “teach other children about their wicked ways”. But can the curse be lifted?

As ever, Gall’s artwork is excellent. The amount of detail and array of technique on display is astounding. Gall’s use of perspective is especially keen, always showing the action from just the right angle to achieve maximum impact. The illustrations are as arresting as they come. In a read aloud setting or solo, kids will be transfixed.

In Substitute Creacher we have a funny, spooky, magical story with art that will grab the reader’s attention. A combination that’s hard to deny.

Review copy from publisher

Watch the Substitute Creacher book trailer. I quite like it.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I am so glad you made the reference to the Miss Nelson is missing books! Substitute Creacher is similar to that great series that my kids all adored! My Boston College babysitter also said that the Miss Nelson series was her favorite picture book as a child.

    I really liked this book too (as did my 6-year-old son. I thought it is the prefect Halloween book (though it’s out a tad early for that).

    I posted on it as well here if you get a chance: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=19501

  2. I didn’t realize there was a book trailer for it. Thanks for the heads up! I enjoyed watching it! You always do such a nice job on your posts!!