Back to School by Jack Sheffield
The final book of my holiday is by one of my favourite authors, Jack Sheffield. I have mentioned him before in one of my Book Chat posts about going back to school and I needed a bit of fun after the gloriously bleak The Stone Diaries. For those of you new to the author, Jack Sheffield writes novels based on his own teaching experiences. This successful set of books starts with Teacher, Teacher! This book, Back to School, is a prequel to those books and I think can be read without knowing the plot of the others. But I would say if you were going to read the other Jack Sheffield's then definitely start with Teacher Teacher! I think that's all clear as mud isn't it?
Jack Sheffield accepts his first teaching job at Heather View Primary situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales teaching Class 6. The school is at the centre of a rough area and has a shocking Headmaster who believes that the children will amount to nothing and a good caning never hurt anyone. Jack and his fellow teachers are determined to give the children the very best education they deserve.
Well this was just what the Dr ordered, I absolutely flew through this. Jack Sheffield's writing contains many funny tales all with a hint of nostalgia and it is great. Jack and his colleagues make learning for the children fun and inclusive, especially in light of the lack of support from the Headmaster and lazy caretaker.
As in all of Jack Sheffield's novels, it is the local community and the children that shine. I loved Kathy Entwistle who runs the corner shop and who he describes as 'a formidable looking lady with curly blonde hair, florid face and arms like a weightlifter'. Kathy knows everything and solves most of the problems in the area ranging from burst pipes to affairs of the heart.
Jack's personality features more strongly in this novel than ever before as he becomes very attached to his fellow teacher, Penny. A love triangle ensues as she is with the ghastly Seb and this provides a nice continuous thread for the novel.
I would say that if you are a fan of the gently writing of James Herriot or Gervase Phinn, then these would be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. The books are gentle but so very funny and often make me laugh out loud. They were the perfect antidote for me.