My Beautiful Voice, by Joseph Coelho/Illustrated by Allison Colpoys, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684644698
A classroom assembles, ready to meet their new teacher, who “explodes into the class”. Miss Flotsam has traveled the world, wears colorful clothes, and loves poetry. She makes the classroom an exciting place to be, with her stories of bicycle rides and hurricanes and flights through storms, but when her class begins working on their own poetry, one child becomes anxious. Miss Flotsam comes to the rescue, calming her nerves and stopping bullies in their tracks with her “eyes that can turn summer into rain”. Encouraged and feeling supported, the child whispers her poem into the teacher’s ear and, eventually, finds her voice and is able to share it with her class. Coelho spins a story in verse that illustrates the exhilarating gift an educator can be in this story. Miss Flotsam is a force in the classroom, encouraging equity and sharing her spark. Miss Flotsam is brown-skinned and dark-haired; the shy child who serves as narrator is brown-skinned with brown hair, and the class is a diverse group of children. Miss Flotsam brings life to the story’s pages, with butterflies, birds, and magic around her. A good back-to-school choice.