The title hero of Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall learned his lesson the hard way. But we don’t know that at first. Have you ever heard of someone learning the easy way? When it comes to life lessons, most of us learn as a result of going through a tough experience, and wanting to avoid going through that again.
We may try to spare others headed down that same slippery slope with a word of warning, but the listener only truly hears it if he or she wants to hear it. Or if he’s going through something similar himself and seeks advice from someone who’s been in their shoes. That’s the terrific twist at the end of Substitute Creacher. After all the examples Mr. Creacher gives of students gone wrong, it turns out that he is one of them. That gives him insight into the children’s characters and credibility with his young audience (both students and readers).
The teacher may have learned the hard way, but he has a gentle delivery with the children in his classroom. He dispenses his anecdotes with humor and rhyme (framed in green slime). By the time the students realize that their sub is more like them than they’d realized, he has won them over. That’s also when it dawns on them that he’s merely trying to spare them the experience he had to go through to learn his lesson.