Back to top

A case of the What Ifs

Cover of Lila Greer, Teacher of the
A review of Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year by Andrea Beaty
David Roberts

In the newest picture book in Andrea Beaty's Questioneers series, we finally get the story of Lila Greer, who we know as the Grade Two teacher from previous books. 

We first see Lila as a baby with a curl on her head, one that "fills her with dread", and as she grows older the What Ifs still get her: 

"They made her heart race. Put knots in her stomach. A frown on her face."

Lila feels calmer in familiar places, surrounded by the people she loves, but one day Lila's family moves to a new home and her world turns upside down. (Literally. The text on this page is printed upside down and you have to flip the book to read it!)

As Lila starts Grade Two in a new school in a new town, the What Ifs take over again:

"...What if I mess up?...What if it goes wrong?
...What if they don't like me, and we don't get along?"

Lila doesn't adjust well, and her discerning teacher asks for Lila's help during recess, assigning her the seemingly never-ending task of cleaning the chalkboard. Some days, there is too much work for one person and other students join in the chores as we slowly watch Lila start to make friends. When Ms. Kern finally announces that she doesn't need help anymore, it is fine, because Lila is ready to join the other kids on the playground. 

Time speeds up, and we see Lila growing, still plagued at times with the What Ifs, but with help she gets back on track. Finally Lila Greer returns to Grade Two, this time as the teacher, but she freezes at the door to her classroom, with a familiar case of the What Ifs, thinking back to her previous time in this classroom. 

As she realizes that her teacher's ask for help was really just a ploy to ease her into making friends, Lila remembers the gentle words from her kind teacher:

"What if some What Ifs are not bad at all?...What if you learn something? What if you find friends?"

And she greets her new class, filled with familiar faces from earlier books, ready to have a wonderful year. 

As someone who also struggles with the What Ifs, I really identified with Lila Greer, and appreciated the author's note that talks about the effects of stress and anxiety on our bodies, and briefly discusses anxiety disorders and resources.

Additional Questioneers picture books:

You can also check out the Questioneers early chapter books and nonfiction series, The Why Files.


May 24, 2024