Sometimes you don't realize how good things are, until theychange. That's what's happening in Miss Nelson's class. The sweet,rosy cheeked teacher is saddled with a class of kids who are taking advantage of her gentle nature.
'Now settle down,' said Miss Nelson in a sweet voice.
But the class would not settle down. They whispered and giggled. They squirmed and made faces. They were even rude during story hour. . .'Something will have to be done,' said Miss Nelson. That something arrives the next schoolday, in the person of Miss Viola Swamp -- a witchy-faced, yet rosy-cheeked, tyrant in an ugly black dress. She cancels story hour, loads the class with homework, and warns, "If you misbehave, you'll be sorry."
The kids soon long for Miss Nelson. They worry about what happened to her and go to the police for help. They even go to Miss Nelson's house, only to spot Viola Swamp walking down Miss Nelson's street!
When Miss Nelson finally returns, she's very evasive when the children ask about her absence, and happily "surprised" by their changed behavior. The former hooligans show Miss Nelson the utmost respect. Later that day, while getting ready for bed, she hangs her coat in the closet, right next to an ugly black dress.
James Marshall's illustrations perfectly capture the sweet, rosy-cheeked Miss Nelson, and the mean, but also rosy-cheeked, Viola Swamp. He gives just enough clues for kids to guess the true identity of the substitute. In addition to the ugly black dress in the closet, there's also a wig and a false, pointy nose lying around Miss Nelson's room.